Zim inflates gem output to evade ban: PAC

diamonds_pureHARARE Zimbabwe exported a mere US$33 million worth of diamonds in 2008 and will not be severely prejudiced by an impending embargo from world trade in the precious mineral, a leading international campaigner against blood diamonds said last week. (Pictured: A man holding diamonds The government has been accused of exaggerating diamond productio

Ottawa-based Partnership Africa Canada, one of the organisations that rigorously campaigned for Zimbabwes expulsion from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), said Harares current official trade in diamonds was so negligible that a ban would not send tremors throughout the struggling southern African economy.

“Total diamond exports from Zimbabwe for the whole of 2008 were a mere US$33 million and, therefore, the necessary embargo by the KP on Zimbabwe’s diamonds will not undermine any future economic recovery,” observed PAC executive director Bernard Taylor.

The countrys total exports for 2008 were estimated at around US$1.8 billion, making the contribution by diamonds a drop in the ocean.

A probe team from the 49-member KPCS last month recommended that Zimbabwe be suspended from trade in rough diamonds for at least six months until better controls are in place and Harare acted to end human rights violations at the notorious Marange or Chiadzwa diamond fields near Mutare city.

Zimbabwes Mines Minister Obert Mpofu immediately responded to the suspension verdict by arguing that the troubled southern African nation would not survive the diamond trade ban as it desperately tries to revive an economy buffeted by a decade of international isolation.

The Zimbabwean minister reasoned at the time that the proposed diamond blockade would only worsen Harares economic situation already dire after the countrys new coalition government failed to secure critical international aid necessary to kickstart collapsed industry.

But Taylor dismissed Mpofus assertion, saying the arguments by Zimbabwe’s political leaders are based on deliberately inflated diamond production levels and are simply smoke and mirrors.

Added Susanne Emond, another PAC official: “Without aiming to harm the country, suspension is one of the only tools the Kimberley Process has to encourage member countries to undertake the necessary reforms to meet the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme minimum requirements and thereby rejoin the world diamond regulatory body.”

PAC has been calling for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process since December 2008 following the first reports of human rights abuses, together with other indications that Zimbabwe had lost control of its diamond industry.

Post published in: Economy

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