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WDC says Zimbabwe not clear to sell diamonds

Obert Mpofu in Jerusalem
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu during the final session of the Kimberley Process Plenary in Jerusalem

By Sandra Nyaira

Countering reports that the Kimberley Process has given Zimbabwe a green light to sell diamonds from the controversial Marange field, the World Diamond Council says such exports have not yet received formal and final approval.

The industry group says Harare must first complete consultations with new Kimberley Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The authorities in Zimbabwe need to complete a series on consultations with Mr. Mathieu Yamba, who has called for understanding and patience of the industry until the conclusions are reached,” said a recent World Diamond Council statement.

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Sources said Zimbabwe has not weighed in on an amendment to an agreement on the export of Marange diamonds that was hammered out in Jerusalem in November and voted through by members last month. The deal, kept under wraps, would allow Zimbabwe to export diamonds from Marange under certain conditions.

The World Diamond Council is urging its members to exercise caution regarding Marange stones given that Harare has not endorsed the agreement.

Activist Alan Martin of Partnership Canada Africa, a non-governmental Kimberley Process member, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that Harare has approval to sell its diamonds – but only if it formally notifies the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme that it agrees to abide by the terms of the amended agreement.

Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a member of the civil society focal point for Kimberley in the country, argued that the amendment risks undoing all the good work that has been done to ensure that Harare complies with the watchdog’s requirements for mining and selling diamonds.

All that has come to light about the amendment to the agreement is that it raised the bar for launching a Kimberley investigation into alleged human rights violations, requiring such a request to be endorsed by three member nations instead of two.

It is unclear why Harare has not given its backing to the agreement as that provision at least weakens the position of its critics among human rights advocates. Studio 7: Voice of America