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Litigant In Zimbabwe Diamond Mine Dispute Invokes Kimberly Process

A dispute over the ownership of a diamond mine in southern Zimbabwe threatens to cast a shadow over all diamond exports from the country, as one party to the wrangle has alleged that gems are being smuggled to South Africa in violation of the so-called Kimberly Process established to bar the sale of diamonds from war zones.

Diamonds from Zimbabwe do not fall into the category of conflict diamonds, but it has been alleged that a party to the dispute breached Kimberly certification rules.

Bubye Mines of Beitbridge, embroiled in an ownership dispute with a business group led by retired army general Solomon Mujuru, husband of Vice President Joyce Mujuru, said this week that it is considering an appeal to Kimberley authorities on grounds that River Ranch, Mujuru's group, has illegally exported diamonds to South Africa.

Bubye has alleged in a convoluted court case that Mujuru used his political muscle in 2004 to seize control of the diamond mine in Beitbridge, Matebeleland South.

The Kimberly Process was set up in 2002 to prevent rebels in war-torn countries such as Sierra Leone from selling diamonds to finance war. The scheme aims to prevent such "conflict diamonds" from entering the international diamond market.

Lawyers for the Mujuru group have denied that their clients smuggled diamonds and accused Bubye of “political tinkering” by bringing Mujuru's name into the conflict.

A high court judge in Harare this month set aside four other high court judgements in Bubye’s favour in coming down in favor of Mujuru’s consortium. Bubye has appealed to the supreme court challenging that ruling as politically biased. Bubye had asked the court to bar the sale or export of gems from the mine pending final disposition.

Bubye Mine Director Adele Farqhur told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 that she will not hesitate to lodge a complaint with Kimberely Process authorities.

The Harare government, meanwhile, has been accused itself of ignoring a high court order supporting the claim of African Consolidated Resources, a British company, to a diamond mine in the Marange area of eastern Manicaland Province. The company started mining a claim it held but the army and police ordered it off the diggings.

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