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Zimbabwe Mines Minister Dismisses Pending Kimberley Process Accord

Obert Mpofu told VOA on Friday that the Harare government does not intend to subscribe to the amended agreement approved by many other Kimberley Process members, and will sell Marange diamonds regardless

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said Friday that his ministry will not endorse an amended agreement approved by many other members of the Kimberley Process which would clear the way for Harare to sell Marange diamonds on international markets.

Mpofu told VOA on Friday that the Harare government objected to language pertaining to human rights in the document. The minister said Zimbabwe has substantially complied with Kimberley Process guidelines and would continue to sell diamonds regardless of whether the watchdog group had authorized such sales or not.

The World Diamond Council issued a statement recently saying such exports have not been given formal and final approval by the Kimberley Process, countering reports that Zimbabwe had received a green light to bring Marange diamonds to market.

The World Diamond Council said Harare must complete consultations with Kimberley Process Chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mpofu told reporter Sandra Nyaira that Harare is not interested in further negotiations on the amended agreement hammered out in Jerusalem late last year.

Harare's position is somewhat surprising as the agreement raised the bar for launching a Kimberley Process investigation into alleged human rights violations, requiring such a request to be endorsed by three Kimberly member nations instead of two.

But Mpofu said issues of violence and human rights raised in the amendment should not have been incorporated into the instrument.

Mpofu also rejected charges by Finance Minister Tendai Biti that millions of dollars in revenues from Marange diamonds have not reached the Treasury.

Analyst Charles Mangongera said he believes the Zimbabwean clique which is in control of the Marange field would in fact rather not see a Kimberley agreement in place as this presents an obstacle to Kimberley oversight of operations that will not bear scrutiny.

Critics of the Marange development policy say diamonds from the alluvial field are being smuggled through Mozambique to unregulated markets with proceeds going to military brass and top officials of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces remain in control of the Marange field, where grave human rights violations including extra-judicial killings have been alleged.