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Zimbabwe Continues To Divide Kimberley Process

Zimbabwe continues to be the lightning rod in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as the gulf between Western members of the group and African and Asian countries continues to widen.

Current Kimberley chair, the United States, is hosting a four-day intersessional meeting in Washington to discuss the mining and trading of conflict diamonds ahead of the diamond watchdog’s November plenary.

Western members of the group say rights abuses by Zimbabwean security forces are continuing in Marange, and that lack of regulation and oversight mean a lot of the diamonds are being looted and smuggled instead of benefiting the country.

African and other non-Western countries suspect Zimbabwe is being unfairly singled out for political issues that have little to do with the immediate issue of diamonds with Harare claiming no other African country mines and sells its diamonds as transparently as it does.

The Working Group on Monitoring is demanding that sales from diamonds benefit the nation and that there be clarity in the operations of Anjin, a joint venture between the Chinese and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Last month Finance Minister Tendai Biti blasted Anjin Investments for not contributing anything to the fiscus and questioned the firm’s shareholding structure.

Kimberley’s Zimbabwe monitor Marc Van Bockstael presented his report on Harare and the country also came up for discussion in the Working Group on reform, which is pushing for the redefinition of the conflict diamond to encompass rights abuses not only by rebels but also sitting governments.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper is claiming that discussion on the controversial re-definition of the term has been shot down. But Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told VOA that the issue it is still up for discussion.

Allan Martin of Africa Partnership Canada says Zimbabwe needs to institute key reforms so diamond proceeds can help the nation and not a few individuals.