Zim diamond group warns against rushed resumption of trade

The Zimbabwe Blood Diamonds Campaign on Friday warned against any rushed decision to allow Zimbabwe to resume diamond trading, saying the local industry is still not compliant with international standards.

The groups Gabriel Shumba told SW Radio Africa that the time is still for right, for Zim diamond exports to resume, explaining that there is still rampant smuggling and reports of human rights abuses at the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Shumba was reacting to the news that the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has called on the international trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), to allow Zimbabwe to resume trading. WFDB President Avi Paz said in a statement that the KP needs to resolve their internal disagreements on the issue of rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwes trade status remains unclear, after the new KP Chairman Mathieu Yamba earlier this year unilaterally gave the country the green light to resume exporting its diamonds. This was despite a lack of consensus from the rest of the KP, with some members still concerned that Zimbabwe is not meeting the minimum standards of international trade. These members insisted that no decision can be made until consensus is reached, but Yamba has declared that he will not review his decision until the next KP plenary session later this year.

The WFDB has now urged KP members to take the essential and courageous decision, to allow Zimbabwe to export its diamonds, warning that the diamond industrys credibility was at stake.

The Kimberley Process, due to the deadlock in its decision-making process and its experts’ ensuing indecision to allow rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe to resume, is about to cause irreparable damage throughout the entire to supply pipeline of our industry and trade, and threatens the livelihood of literally millions of people throughout the international diamond and jewellery sector, said WFDB president Paz.

He added: While the diamond industry and trade is in a position to contribute to the betterment of many Zimbabwean citizens, the inaction of the Kimberley Process, its members and its experts is now the major stumbling block toward real progress. In addition, if the Kimberley Process remains indecisive on Zimbabwe, there is a real danger that the relevance of the Kimberley Process itself will be at stake.

The Zimbabwe Blood Diamond Campaigns Shumba said that while it agrees that the KP needs to resolve the situation, there is a real danger of the KP being forced into making the wrong decision. This implies that a resolution includes sweeping under the carpet all the human rights violations in Zimbabwes diamond trade, and endorsing the resumption of sales without Zimbabwe meeting international standards, Shumba warned.

He also countered Pazs claims that it was the KPs deadlock on Zimbabwe alone that was tarnishing the diamond industrys image. What is tarnishing the industrys reputation is that trading has continued despite smuggling and other violations. The fact that the KP has continuously failed to resolutely deal with these violations is the real problem here, Shumba said.

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