President Hichilema warns Masisi
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has warned his Botswana counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi and the rest of African leaders against giving into the world’s superpowers’ demands.
Hichilema was speaking during a two-day working visit to Botswana in Kasane on Wednesday last week.
Sharing his views on the recent demands by the G7 nations for all diamonds producing countries to do their certification in Antwerp, Belgium, Hichilema said such a move would be undemocratic.
“This is just the beginning. It’ll move to another commodity,” warned Hichilema.
“Fairness, equity, democracy, respect for the rule of law connotes that when an issue that affects somebody else arises, there must be a sit down, a conversation,” he said.
The G7 nations are calling for transparency in the diamond and the banning of Russian stones as part of sanctions imposed of the East European nation.
Frustrated that the Kimberly Process has not declared Russian diamonds as ‘Blood diamond’ western nations have suggested a traceability system to verify the origins of the stones to make sanctions of Russian diamonds easily enforceable.
This move was however condemned by Chairperson of the Kimberly Process Ahmed bin Sulayem, stating that any proposed scheme must take into account African diamond producing nations such as Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa.
Sulayem said making Antwerp the gatekeeper will mean African nations are collateral damage, while Belgium benefits from their natural resources.
The Chairperson further warned that the proposed scheme by the G7 would cause supply chain disruption and added burden and costs to mining countries.
Likewise Hichilema urged Masisi to stand up against the G7 and defend his turf.
The Zambian President said they made it clear at the Paris Summit in June last year that there must be a reform of global financial, trading and decision making systems.
“You cannot have Africa with 1.3 billion people excluded from the table where these decisions are made, such as the one made by the G7 on diamonds. That’s iniquitous,” fired Hichilema.
“No matter how smart our colleagues are, they can’t fully represent our interests. If the opposite was the case, they would never agree to that. If for instance we were to say all diamonds should be inspected in Gaborone, that would be an issue, so why shouldn’t it be an issue with us,” he asked.
Hichilema urged Masisi to engage fellow African leaders, SADC and African Union (AU) because Africa today has leaders who understand what it means to represent those who put them into public office.
“It won’t be easy on this matter and others, but this is where unity of purpose comes in. The quicker we discuss this, the better,” Hichilema said.
Meanwhile President Masisi assured his neighbour that Botswana holds firm to their belief that a decision which could have a major impact on the country, a leading producer of diamonds to their exclusion cannot be right.
He said they hold a variant view to the G7, and reject any view that anyone possesses the right of a single node of the country’s natural resources.
“We suggested to them that at the very least Gaborone be the node of rough diamonds, because diamonds means everything to us,” said Masisi.