Talks on Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond field have opened in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu insisting Harare will defy any move to monitor its international diamond sales.
Mpofu told VOA he was unlikely to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Kimberley Working group on monitoring mining operations in the rich alluvial diamond field in Marange, a district in Manicaland province, in eastern Zimbabwe near the Mozambique border.
The Kimberley plenary will take up Zimbabwe on Wednesday, sources said.
Mpofu said Zimbabwe must be allowed to freely export rough stones from Marange. He said he was not in Kinshasa to secure permission to export diamonds, but to demand that Kimberly acknowledge that Harare has met all of its requirements.
Zimbabwean non-governmental representative Shamiso Mtisi said that while there has been progress on the ground in Marange, Harare must to do more to fully comply with Kimberley standards where human rights and transparency are concerned.
The current inter-sessional meeting of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme unfolding in Kinshasa could be one of the most critical meetings of the watchdog group since its establishment in 2003 under a UN Security Council mandate.
For several years Kimberley officials have struggled to address complex issues of human rights and corruption posed by development of the Marange field, which has been tightly controlled by the military and President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party since 2009.
The main question facing Kimberley members is whether Zimbabwe should be allowed to sell its Marange diamonds into the world market without further oversight, or if restrictions should continue to be imposed on such sales.
The difficult Zimbabwean case has challenged and divided the Kimberley Process so profoundly that it is facing a breakdown of its consensus mechanism. Some members are mooting creation of a so-called “Kimberly-Plus” to deal with more complex issues.
In the second of a series of special reports on Marange, VOA Studio 7 looks at the high stakes for Kimberly itself as it grapples with issues its charter did not anticipate.
Some believe Kimberley's image is in tatters and it may never recover if it fails to deal decisively with the Marange issue in Kinshasa, as Sandra Nyaira reported.