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Kimberly Process Issues Advisory on Zimbabwe Diamonds as Monitor Tours Field

Activists are pushing the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to suspend Zimbabwe over alleged rights abuses in and smuggling from the Marange field, but sources said South Africa and Namibia will vote against suspension

The Zimbabwe monitor for the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme visited the controversial Marange diamond field Tuesday and met with civic activists in the Manicaland province capital of Mutare to discuss human rights abuses and diamond smuggling allegedly going on in the nearby diamond field, sources said Wednesday.

Chikane was due back in Harare on Wednesday to meet with civil society leaders there and a Cabinet task force on Marange, among others. He was expected to conclude his meetings on Friday, setting the stage for a June meeting of Kimberly Process member nations in Tel Aviv, Israel, at which Zimbabwe's suspension could be proposed.

Activists are pushing the Kimberly Process to suspend Harare over the situation in Marange, but sources said South Africa and Namibia will vote against suspension. Such Kimberly Process decisions are made by consensus.

Among those who briefed Chikane was Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare. He says Chikane disclosed little but expressed anger that information was withheld from him on his previous mission.

Maguwu's center published a report this week saying that up to 2,000 carats of diamonds extracted in Marange were being smuggled out of the country each day, one destination of the illicit trade being the Gulf region.

The Kimberly Process has expressed concern at reports of illicit exports and resolved to step up enforcement with an international warning to member states telling them to watch for Marange diamonds.

The advisory sent out by Kimberly Process Chairman Boaz Hirsch urged members and dealers to report if Marange diamonds come to their attention, and provided technical information for identification of such stones.

Hirsch said Zimbabwe still requires Kimberly clearance to export diamonds from Marange.

"Considering that the appropriate use of KP certificates is crucial for the credibility of the KPCS, participants are also encouraged to exercise caution as regards possible fraudulent certificates," the advisory said.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, meanwhile, said he will provide clearance to parliamentarians who have been seeking to tour Marange for months. Legislators were to meet with Chikane Thursday morning before he sees ministers.