Ban Zimbabwe from selling diamonds – Global Witness

HARARE - International human rights group Global Witness (GW) has painted a negative image of Zimbabwe's diamond industry ahead of next week's meeting of the Koimberly Process Certification System KPCS in Israel to determine the future of its so-called blood diamonds.

In a report entitled, “The return of the blood diamond”, GW said on Monday that the army must be withdrawn from the diamond fields and the Zimbabwe government must not enter into any new joint venture agreements with potential diamond miners until the current dispute is resolved.

“Zimbabwe must immediately withdraw the army from the diamond fields, hold rights abusers to account and suspend imports and exports of rough diamonds until the diamond sector meets international standards. It should also suspend the introduction of new investors into Marange until the legality of current joint ventures can be established, and effective oversight implemented,” GW said.

The US-based organisation said the role of Mugabe’s top military brass and the involvement of senior officials of his Zanu (PF) party must also be probed. At the weekend, mines and mineral development minister Obert Mpofu expressed optimism that Zimbabwe’s diamonds would be allowed to trade on the international market following a positive preliminary report from Southern Africa Diamond Council chairman and KPCS monitor Abbey Chikane.

Chikane is said to have expressed reservations about some of Zimbabwe’s practices, in particular the continued presence of the army in the diamond fields, human rights abuses and theft, but is likely to authorize Zimbabwe’s intended sale of 4 million carats worth of diamonds from Marange. GW alleged that Zimbabwe’s military and political elite were bent on gaining control of the diamonds through violence.

“Zimbabwe’s Zanu (PF) political and military elite are seeking to capture the country’s diamond wealth through a combination of state-sponsored violence and the legally questionable introduction of opaque joint-venture companies,” GW said. Return of the Blood Diamond criticizes the KPCS, set up to end the trade in conflict diamonds, for its alleged repeated failure to react effectively to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

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