Sunday, February 27, 2011

U.S. Official Jets in to Court Zimbabwe Support for Kimberley Process

US official jets in to court Zim support

Sunday, 27 February 2011 10:32
By Tafadzwa Chiremba

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Mrs Susan Page is expected in Zimbabwe this week to canvas support in her country’s bid for the deputy chairmanship of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

The world diamond body is scheduled to hold its plenary meeting in Zimbabwe next month.


However, the visit is a major climbdown for the US, which only last month smuggled a hostile clause into a draft document giving the Southern African state the green light to export diamonds mined in Chiadzwa.

It is understood Mrs Page arrives tomorrow after which she will hold discussions with Mines and Mining Development Minister Cde Obert Mpofu.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Cde Mpofu of her imminent visit.

The minister confirmed, but would not be drawn into revealing further details.

“We received correspondence from the Foreign Affairs Ministry that Mrs Page would be visiting the country on March 1,” he said.

“We were also advised that she intends to hold meetings with us.”

Sources revealed that Zimbabwe’s vote was crucial. “The consensus voting system bids all members to vote.

“If one member abstains then this becomes tantamount to rejection,” said a source.


Last month, the US allegedly surreptitiously slipped a hostile clause into a draft decision authorising Zimbabwe to export Chiadzwa diamonds.

The clause states that any occurrence of violence, lawlessness or harassment in the country would result in the suspension of the exports, a condition no other member is subject to.


The US is also accused of having connived with the World Diamond Council (WDC) earlier this month to create confusion on the market by spreading claims that the diamonds had not been certified.

The claims came after outgoing KP chair Mr Boaz Hirsch oversaw the process that led to Zimbabwe being given the latitude to export the gems.

Minister Mpofu said the WDC was being compromised by Western influence.

“The WDC, which is supposed to be an independent body, has become a Western organisation,” he said.

“The president of the WDC has become an agent of the West instead of being an administrator of this process.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo, the present KP chair, should be wary of attempts to deny African diamond producers the right to benefit from their resources.”

The KP is a voluntary organisation comprising diamond producing countries and works to prevent trade in conflict diamonds.
Zimbabwe is one of the founder members of the group, having joined in 2002.-The Sunday Mail

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