The U.S. government has put Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources on its sanctions list that includes several other entities and individuals with close ties to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control updated its 'specially designated' nationals list late Friday to include the two companies, which operate mines in the controversial Marange diamond field.
The move comes despite the recent decision by the Kimberley Process to allow both companies to export diamonds into world markets.
Both are operating in partnership with the government-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, already sanctioned under the U.S.' Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, for alleged rights violations at the Marange fields.
"This is just making something that was true of the law more cleared to the public," a treasury source said. "That situation was already there because the ZMDC is already sanctioned so the announcement is just a clarification."
Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire told VOA the government will examine the implications of the U.S. decision to sanction the companies, which he said are helping fund the cash-strapped Harare administration.
Former Affirmative Action Group president Supa Mandiwanzira accused Washington of duplicity in obtaining Harare’s backing to assume the chair of the Kimberley Process next year in a meeting that gave the two companies the green light to sell their stones internationally.
Diamond activist Farai Maguwu said the decision will blow a hole in government finances, adding the decision shows the U.S. has never supported the Kimberley decision to allow to sell of Marange stones in the first place.
Meanwhile, some villagers in the Marange diamond zone are upset with Mbada Diamonds, accusing the company of trampling on local beliefs in the relocation of ancestral graves to make way for further mining operations.
Villagers say Mbada officials left the open graves uncovered overnight before human remains were re-interred elsewhere.