Cabinet rejects Zanu PF’s diamond sale proposals

diamonds

CABINET on Tuesday rejected Zanu PF sponsored proposals to auction diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa fields without approval from trade regulator, the Kimberly Process, it has been revealed. Sources said Vice-President John Nkomo , who last month led a high-level delegation to assess mining operations in Chiadzwa, presented a report that suggested Zimbabwe had no choice but to sell the diamonds outside the KP.

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was set up to prevent trade in conflict diamonds.

A review team that visited Zimbabwe last year discovered that the country’s fledging trade in the precious stones did not meet the scheme’s minimum requirements .

Former CEO of South Africa’s State Diamond Trade Abbey Chikane was appointed by the KP to monitor the country’s compliance.

Trade in diamonds will only resume once he is satisfied that the requirements have been met.

But Nkomo, in his report, is said to have pointed out that it would be a waste of time to wait for the nod from the KP because countries that were calling the shots had imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Boaz Hirsch, who is a senior official in the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, has taken over the chairmanship of the scheme and he is under pressure especially from Western NGOs to restore the credibility of the KP.

“Nkomo’s report had two recommendations,” said the source from MDC-T. “The one which seemed to be favoured by Zanu PF was that we cannot wait for the KP to give us the go-ahead because it will never come.

“He said the same countries that slapped us with sanctions were being asked to be the judges but for us that was never an option.

“The second option was that we must follow the due process of the law.”

The MDC-T, which has insisted on investigations into the illicit diamond deals that have taken place in Chiadzwa since 2006 when the mining claims were seized from the British registered African Consolidated Resources (ACR), reportedly prevailed.

Zimbabwe will now bank on a positive outcome when Chikane returns for his second assessment later this month.

Nkomo during his visit on April 14 said the country needed to fully exploit the Chiadzwa diamonds to help bust the sanctions.

This was after he toured facilities of Mbada Diamond Company and Canadile — the two companies that were controversially given licences to exploit the precious stones there.

On Friday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu who alongside President Robert Mugabe had threatened to pull out of the KP also appeared to be making a big about-turn.

He told the state media that although the country was desperate to sell the diamonds, it had to first meet the KP requirements.

“It is important for me to state that diamonds from Chiadzwa are subject to KPCS monitoring and certification, without which no sale of diamonds can take place,” he said.

“The KPCS monitor is engaged with government and the investors in the implementation of the joint work plan.”

In a report produced after his maiden visit in March, Chikane expressed concern about the heavy presence of security agencies in Marange and inadequate mechanisms to prevent the leakage of the precious stones.

Meanwhile, the British-based Global Witness, which investigates and campaigns against blood diamonds, last week said Zimbabwe was yet to comply with the KP requirements.

The group was reacting to statements by government officials that the country could start selling diamonds after the High Court refused to hear an urgent application by ACR challenging the auction of the precious stones held in stock.

BY KHOLWANI NYATHI

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