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Zimbabwe's Marange Diamonds Center-Stage At DRC Kimberley Meeting

  • Sithandekile Mhlanga

Kimberley Process Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo declared Marange diamonds could be sold into the world market, but his statement was not backed up by a Kimberley consensus

Zimbabwe is center stage at a four-day Kimberley Process meeting that opened Monday in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, with opposing camps already haggling behind the scenes over whether Zimbabwe should be allowed to sell diamonds from the highly controversial Marange diamond field into international markets.

Kimberley Process members this week are discussing issues affecting the diamond trade globally – but Zimbabwe once again is topping the agenda as KP members have not been able to achieve a consensus on the proper handling of Marange stones.

Key members such as India and African diamond-producing countries led by South Africa are pushing for the removal of a global ban on rough stones from Marange.

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo early this year declared Marange diamonds could be sold into the world market, but his statement was not backed up by a Kimberley consensus.

African members have lined up behind Harare, but human rights groups say Marange stones should be blacklisted as "blood diamonds," arguing that they have been tainted by human rights violations. But many observers expect that the tenuous barriers to the untrammeled export sale of Marange diamonds will gradually be lowered.

Research Director Alan Martin of Africa Partnership Canada told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that Zimbabwe is not yet up for discussion Monday, but that informal talks on the topic were under way. Martin said neither Zimbabwe nor the African Diamond Producers Association have tabled a formal proposal yet because Harare has refused to endorse a text worked up in Dubai that allowed sales with reduced oversight.

Zimbabwean Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire said Harare expects the Kinshasha meeting to be the last to discuss Zimbabwe’s compliance issues because he expects that the session will give a green light to the unrestricted sale of Marange diamonds.

Political analyst Effie Dlela-Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that the Kimberley Process may achieve a consensus to lift the embargo on diamonds from Marange depending on how much the progress the country has made in observing human rights in the zone, and in making sure revenues benefit all Zimbabweans.

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