Zimbabwe remained at the top of the agenda Wednesday in an ongoing Windhoek, Namibia, meeting of the Kimberly Process which is considering a ban on the international sale of the country's diamonds over alleged human rights and other abuses in the Marange field.
Sources close to the meeting in Windhoek said most African diamond producing countries including in particular South Africa, Angola, Tanzania and Namibia were expressing opposition to Zimbabwe's suspension from the Kimberly Process, whereas Western members supported the imposition of a ban over alleged military killings in eastern Manicaland province.
Observers said that because there is an emphasis within the Kimberly Process on consensus, the organization does not now seem very likely to suspend Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu on Wednesday presented Zimbabwe’s plans for the Marange field, telling the Kimberly Process plenary session that the Harare government has done all it could to abide by Kimberly rules and recommendations in Marange. Critics of the government say it has done little and the military remains in charge in the area.
Mpofu earlier told the meeting the Marange or Chiadzwa field as it is sometimes called is under government control. He said the army would not be removed until private companies provide tight security to prevent unauthorized mining. He said this would happen gradually.
Members of the Kimberly Process review team, which visited Marange in July and issued a scathing report, demanded that Mpofu apologize for calling them and Zimbabwean activists "deranged" for their allegations of rights abuses and diamond smuggling, sources said.
But he refused, saying the Zimbabwean government will continue to challenge the credibility of the review mission report which said 'horrific' abuses had taken place in Chiadzwa.
Mpofu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that two companies are already setting up in Marange in keeping with the recommendation of the review team that private operators be brought in to exploit the Marange field - though it also urged it be demilitarized.
Activists allege that the army is determined to maintain control of the diamond field because millions of dollars worth of diamonds are being extracted and illegally exported.
VOA correspondent Peta Thornycroft spoke with one former Kimberly Process participant who said the organization has failed to pursue its mission in the case of Zimbabwe.
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