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South African bodies call for Israel to be excluded from diamond processing over ‘war crimes’

RT | June 6, 2013

South African human rights groups, trade unions and major civil society organisations are calling for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme* to exclude Israel from diamond processing.

The certification scheme is designed to stop ‘conflict diamonds’ from entering the mainstream diamond market and was set up in 2003. The organisation which runs the scheme is currently meeting in South Africa.

The coalition of organisations such as South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers, the country’s largest trade union federation COSATU; South African Students Congress; the Coalition for a Free Palestine and BDS South Africa say that “billions of dollars’ worth of diamonds exported via Israel are a major source of revenue for the Israeli military, which stands accused of war crimes.”

The coalition is calling for Israel to be excluded from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme due to its human rights record against Palestinians, and to end all exports of rough diamonds to Israel immediately.

The organizations also wants to ban diamond polishing and cutting in Israel. They claim excluding Israel from the diamond processing would be a great chance for the South African authorities to display “moral vision and political leadership”.

“The Kimberley Process has played an important role over the past decade in resolving conflicts linked to the diamond trade but there is no doubt that it has to be reformed… [by] expanding the definition of conflict to include human rights abuses linked to diamond extraction perpetrated by governments and companies; and expanding downstream monitoring so that the process covers not just the rough diamond trade but also the international movement and polishing of diamonds,” Southern Africa Resource Watch director Claude Kabemba told the Business Day newspaper.

The coalition also pointed to the local benefits of such a move, claiming it could bring more diamond processing jobs back to South Africa. “Consumers will have a clear conscience that their diamonds are not funding, assisting or in any way involved with the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and more jobs will be created locally for our people by bringing this diamond processing back home instead of it being done in Israel,” South African activist Mbuyiseni Ndlozi is quoted by the Middle East Monitor as saying.

The Kimberley Process, established a decade ago to help resolve international diamond trade conflicts and to ensure that the diamond trade is not used as an instrument to fund military rebellions and other violence interfering with human rights. The organization includes 54 participants representing 90 countries while its members account for about 99.8 percent of the global production of rough diamonds, the Middle East Monitor reports.

* The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is the process to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. Established by UN GA Resolution 55/56 in 2003, the process is aimed “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.” In order for a country to be a participant, it must ensure that any diamond originating from the country does not finance a rebel group or other entity seeking to overthrow a UN-recognized government, that every diamond export be accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate and that no diamond is imported from, or exported to, a non-member of the scheme. As of 30 November 2012, there were 54 participants in the KPCS representing 80 countries, with the European Union counting as a single participant.

June 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lonmin platinum mine workers end strike in South Africa

Press TV – September 19, 2012

Mineworkers of Lonmin platinum mine have ended their five-week strike and returned to work after the company increased their salaries, South African media says.

The Lonmin strike was marked by violent clashes in August, where police forces killed 34 striking miners at the platinum mine which is reportedly the world’s third-largest platinum producer with approximately 28,000 employees. In all, 45 people have died in violence related to the unrest.

“The end of the Lonmin strike is something we should all cheer, but how the dispute has been settled may provide a template for workers to use elsewhere. That’s the contagion threat,” wrote a columnist for Business Day (South Africa) on Wednesday.

Meanwhile,South African mining strikes spread to the chrome sector, after miners in gold and platinum mines halted work across the country.

Reports on Monday said that some miners at Samancor chrome mine located near Mooinooi, northwest of Johannesburg stopped work, demanding a minimum pay of 12,500 rand ($1,560).

According to an article published in Business Daily on Tuesday, “What started as a wage dispute… has morphed into something much bigger, posing a number of questions about the future of the mining industry and SA as an investment case… Workers at other mines may be encouraged to adopt the same tactics as the Lonmin workers, especially as they managed to winkle out extra pay from a struggling company.”

The Star newspaper also reported “this [end of the Lonmin strike] could be bad news for the biggest miners’ union in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)…. There is a strong feeling that NUM members will decamp and move to join the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the NUM’s new rival.”

Earlier on September 10, some 15,000 mine workers staged a demonstration at Gold Fields mine to voice their anger over pay and working conditions, after four people injured in a shooting at the same mine.

South Africa is home to nearly 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves. Mining accounts for about 20 percent of the country’s national output.

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Unfinished Revolution and the Massacre at Marikana

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | August 22, 2012

When thousands of miners went on strike at South Africa’s largest platinum mine, in Marikana, they were confronting not only the London-based owners, but the South African state, which since 1994 has been dominated by the African National Congress (ANC); COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions; and the South African Communist Party. This week, the full weight of the state was brought down on the Black miners, 34 of whom were massacred by police gunfire. Many of the survivors face charges of murder in the earlier deaths of two policemen and eight other miners.

The National Union of Mineworkers, whose representation the strikers rejected, and the Communist Party head in the region claim the strikers are at fault, that they have committed the sin of choosing an alternative union to argue their case for higher wages and, therefore, deserve severe punishment. They are “anarchists,” say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting “dual unionism” – which is now, apparently, a capital crime. With a straight face, the Communist Party had the gall to call on all South African workers to “remain united in the fight against exploitation under capitalism.”

That is precisely what the Marikana miners were doing – the struggle they gave their lives for. However, since the peaceful transition to state power to the ANC and its very junior partners, the COSATU unions and the Communist Party, in 1994, the South African state has had different priorities. The “revolution” was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders. It is only logical that, if the priority of the state is to nurture Black capitalists, then it must maintain and defend capitalism. This is the central contradiction of the South African arrangement, and the massacre at Marikana is its inevitable result.

The 1994 agreement between Nelson Mandela’s ANC and the white South African regime was a pact with the devil, which could only be tolerated by the masses of the country’s poor because it was seen as averting a bloodbath, and because it was assumed to be temporary. But, 18 years later, the arrangement has calcified into a bizarre protectorate for foreign white capital and the small class of Blacks that have attached themselves to the global rich. Apologists for the African National Congress regime will prattle on about the “complexity” of the issue, but the central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.

The fundamental contradictions of the rule of the many by the few, remain in place – only now, another layer of repression has been added: a Black aristocracy that has soaked itself in the blood of the miners of Marikana.

South Africa remains the continent’s best hope for a fundamental break with colonialism in its new forms. But, as in all anti-colonial struggles, the biggest casualties will occur in the clash between those who truly desire liberation, and those who are intent on an accommodation with the old master.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment