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South Africa Backs Zimbabwe in Kimberley Process Decision to Resume Diamond Exports

South Africa’s Mines Minister Susan Shabangu said Zimbabwe has complied with international standards and is ready to trade the controversial Marange gems in a “normal way”.

The South African government this week declared its backing for Zimbabwe to sell diamonds extracted from the controversial Marange fields on the international market.

Speaking Wednesday at a diamond conference in Dubai, South Africa’s Mines Minister Susan Shabangu said harare had complied with international standards and was ready to trade its gems in a “normal way”.

Shabangu’s remarks came after a controversial decision by Kimberley Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo allowing Harare to sell the Marange diamonds without putting the decision to a vote.

Kimberley decisions are normally taken by consensus. The diamond industry condemned Yamba’s move and a meeting of all Kimberley Working Group on Monitoring has been called to discuss his actions.

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, speaking at the same conference said Zimbabwe would not be stopped from selling its diamonds.

Mpofu declared the country "will not continue dialouge with people who are openly defiant of the Kimberley Process."

The United States and the European Union are urging buyers to boycott diamonds from Marange.

Director Farai Maguwu of the Centre for Research and Development in Mutare, who attended the conference, told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the stance taken by South Africa was unfortunate.

Maguwu said he expected Pretoria to take an informed role when it comes to Zimbabwean politics.