Zim tops agenda at diamond talks

HARARE - The sale of Zimbabwes controversial diamonds is set to top the agenda at a meeting of diamond trade regulators in Israel next month, when a deadline for Zimbabwe to fall in line with international standards passes.

Israel is hosting the June talks as the new chair of the Kimberley Process (KP), the international trade watchdog tasked with ending the sale in blood diamonds. The group has faced severe criticism for its lenient treatment of Zimbabwe, despite widespread calls for the country to be banned from trade over human rights atrocities. Instead of a ban, Zimbabwe was told to follow a set of guidelines to improve trade standards; a move that rights groups say has not stopped the abuses still ongoing at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

The CRD has warned that large quantities of diamonds from the claim are finding their way to local and foreign buyers, without certification, with the prime suspects being employees at the government approved Canadile mining firm. Diamonds are also illegally being sold to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, according to a Zimbabwe Independent report. That report detailed that the government has exported over 153 000 carats of diamonds worth US$11.2 million through shady state-controlled entities, owned by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

Meanwhile, the government has established a joint venture for the construction of a multimillion-dollar Diamond Technology Centre for processing of the gems in Zimbabwe. The centre will also reportedly house a diamond auction floor, a marketing wing and an administration block that will house the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development offices and banks. Maguwu said that the centre is just another extension of an exercise riddled with corruption from the very beginning, arguing that it will not benefit Zimbabweans or the economy in any way.

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