The Kimberly Process monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane of South Africa, has returned to Harare for follow-up meetings with ministers and stakeholders in the Marange diamond field ahead of a Kimberly Process meeting in Israel in June that could see the country suspended from the organization for failing to meet its standards.
Chikane met with government officials on Monday and made clear he had not come to certify Marange diamonds for international sale, but to follow up on his fact-finding mission earlier this year during which, he said, officials and others withheld critical information about diamond mining activities in Marange.
The Kimberly monitor on Wednesday is expected to meet the Cabinet task force for Marange, including Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, who has resisted efforts by Parliament to lift the veil of secrecy from over Marange.
Chikane was also scheduled to meet with officials from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, representatives of civic groups and Simba Makoni, a former finance minister, to obtain an economist's point of view on the development of the Marange diamond resource.
Chikane also indicated to government officials that he wants more information from the two companies developing the Marange field in a joint venture with the Harare government that observers have described as suspect.
Industry sources and news reports say diamonds from Marange are being exported through Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in violation of a ruling by the Zimbabwean Supreme Court ordering mining activities in Marange to halt pending a final ruling on disputed concessions in the lucrative alluvial diamond field.
The Zimbabwe Independent, a weekly newspaper, reported on Friday that diamond exports to the Gulf and elsewhere violate Kimberley Process guidelines, which could result in the suspension of Zimbabwe’s KP membership.
Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zwizwai confirmed to VOA that Chikane is in the country, adding that the monitor was not pleased that some of those involved in Marange withheld crucial information from him.