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World Diamond Council Eyes Alleged Zimbabwe-South Africa Gem Traffic


The World Diamond Council has expressed concern at reports that rough diamonds from Zimbabwe are being illegally exported into South Africa for onward sale into the world market under fraudulent certification of origin, a council statement said.

Such certification is provided under the so-called Kimberly Process to assure dealers and consumers that diamonds are not coming from areas in conflict and that proceeds will not go to fund warfare and human rights abuses - for instance by rebel forces as happened in Sierra Leone, which gave rise to the Kimberly Process.

WDC Chairman Eli Izhakoff said in a statement that “such illegal exportation presents a clear threat to the integrity of the legitimate export process as a whole” and urged nations who are signatory to the accord “to act swiftly and in unison, to resolve this situation and protect the legitimate and law abiding industry.”

Though Zimbabwe is not a war zone, diamonds from all countries are supposed to be certified under the Kimberly Process to maintain international consistency.

In a related development, the European Commission has requested an update from Harare on the allegations and urged the World Diamond Council to share information on abuses in Zimbabwe and the impact of such abuses on neighboring countries.

It has been alleged that gems from a mine in Beitbridge whose ownership is in dispute, and diamonds from Marange, are being sent to South Africa for fraudulent Kimberly certification. This could lead to the blacklisting of Zimbabwean diamonds.

The government itself has been accused of using security forces to seize a Marange diamond mine in violation of a high court order supporting the claim of the British-based African Consolidated Resources to rightful ownership of the mine.

Bubye mines of Beitbridge is embroiled in an ownership dispute with a business group led by retired army General Solomon Mujuru, husband of vice president Joyce Mujuru. Bubye managers said they may appeal to Kimberly authorities, charging that Mujuru’s group, which has physical control of the mine and has renamed it River Ranch Mine, has exported diamonds in violation of court orders and without proper certification.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe interviewed Bubye mine Director Adele Farquhar, who said she has evidence of diamond smuggling.

River Ranch Executive Director George Kantsouris, also contacted, disputed the allegation that his group has been smuggling diamonds to South Africa.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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