Rapaport Magazine

Zimbabwe Vows to Export as KP Deliberates

By Rapaport
Key members of the Kimberley Process (KP) are scheduled to meet in Brussels in another attempt to come to an agreement that will allow Zimbabwe to export diamonds from Marange. This meeting follows the KP’s four-day plenary in Jerusalem that ended in a stalemate when members failed to achieve consensus regarding the KP Certification Scheme (KPSC).

Obert Mpofu, Zimbabwe’s mines minister, announced, “Zimbabwe will sell diamonds without any conditions.” However, KP chair Boaz Hirsch insisted “no trade of Marange diamonds can currently take place” and warned that “it is of utmost importance that all participants remain vigilant” and respect the terms of the KP’s Joint Work Plan and St. Petersburg agreement while talks continue.

Hirsch’s statement drew an immediate reaction from the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA). The Zimbabwe newspaper The Herald reported that ADPA demanded Hirsch withdraw his “illegal” statement, adding that failure to do so would have “severe ramifications regarding the continued participation of members in the KP.” ADPA executive secretary Edgar Carvalho cited the “sinister” and “selfish” motives of Canada and Australia and the association said it would encourage Zimbabwe to take legal action to protect its interests since any attempt to block trade violates World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The ADPA concluded that “there are no conflict diamonds in Zimbabwe” since there is no civil war.  

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) came to Hirsch’s defense and advised members not to deal in recently exported Marange diamonds. Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents the diamond industry at the KP, explained that the organization’s position has always been “an inclusive one” rather than advocating expulsion or the possibility of allowing diamonds to penetrate the market outside the KPSC.

Chikane Reportedly Approves Marange Sales

Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) reported that the KP’s monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, “unilaterally certified all production” from the Mbada and Canadile concessions, including millions of stockpiled diamonds. In its statement, PAC reported that industry sources have confirmed the sales of an estimated $160 million in diamonds to four Indian buyers. PAC called on the KP to nullify the certificates issued by Chikane and notify all diamond trading countries that any shipments would be in violation of KP standards. PAC further advocated these shipments be seized upon arrival in any KP member country and called for removal of Chikane as KP monitor for Marange.

PAC, a member of the KP Civil Society Coalition, has been committed to playing a constructive role in finding an agreement that allows all Zimbabweans to benefit from the country’s diamond wealth, while ensuring that human rights are respected and the integrity of the KP scheme is preserved. Yet KP is “at a crossroads,” according to Nadim Kara, campaign director at PAC. “Either we unite in the face of such blatant disregard for the rules or we allow ourselves to be bullied into irrelevance,” Kara stated.

Prior to the KP plenary, The Herald reported that five top officials from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Commission (ZMDC), a company under U.S. and European Union (EU) sanctions, along with one official from Canadile Miners, were arrested for “fraudulently” gaining the rights to mine diamonds in Marange. Among those arrested were ZMDC’s chief executive officer (CEO) and general manager Dominic Mubaiwa and Canadile Miners’ deputy chairman Lovemore Kurotwi, who accused Mpofu of soliciting bribes. According to The Herald, the charge was made in front of President Mugabe, who was reported to be “stunned.”

In an attempt to advance the negotiations, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) sent a delegation of diamond industry professionals, including diamantaires and technology specialists, to Zimbabwe. According to its spokesperson, “AWDC felt that Antwerp’s special expertise could contribute positively to resolve outstanding issues, by providing the necessary infrastructure and policy guidelines.”

Licenses Granted to Chinese Firms

Licenses have been granted to Sino-Zimbabwe, a joint commercial entity between the Chinese government and Zimbabwe, according to economic planning and investment promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada. Another Chinese company, Anjil and Pure Diamonds were also given concessions in Chiadzwa diamond fields. However, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that Chiadzwa diamonds “have not produced ‘el dorado.’”

Mineral sales for the first nine months of 2010 rose 25 percent year on year to $807.2 million, according to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ). Citing MMCZ data, The Herald reported that diamond exports grew 73 percent to $110 million and platinum exports doubled to $540 million.

“The international community has let Zimbabwe down — none more than South Africa,” said Peter Godwin, the Zimbabwean journalist and author. Speaking at the launch for his latest book The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe, Godwin said South Africa has a “moral obligation to help Zimbabwe.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2010. To subscribe click here.

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