Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zimbabwe Diamond News: US in Bid to Block Sales; State Demands Release of Confiscated Gems

US in bid to block diamond sales

Tuesday, 28 June 2011 01:00
By Takunda Maodza
Zimbabwe Herald

THE US Government has launched a fresh bid to block Zimbabwe from selling its diamonds after the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme last Friday allowed the country to trade Marange gems.

The remarks by the US come barely a week after the KPCS granted Mbada and Marange Resources the greenlight to unconditionally sell their diamonds at its Intercessional meeting in Kinshasa, DRC.

In a statement through its embassy in Harare, the US government said it was disappointed by the KPCS' decision allowing Zimbabwe to trade in its Marange diamonds.

"The United States is deeply disappointed with the Kinshasa Intercessional as it related to Zimbabwe. The United States has been a strong supporter of the Kimberly Process in the past and desires to find a way forward for the Kimberley Process that includes Zimbabwe and preserves the credibility of the process.

"The United States believes that progress with respect to exports from the Marange area of Zimbabwe can occur solely through a mechanism agreed to by consensus among KP participants," said Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the State Department.

She added: "We believe that work towards a solution must continue, and that until consensus is reached, exports from Marange should not proceed."

Nuland claimed there was no consensus at the Kinshasa meeting on the sale of Marange diamonds.

"The Kinshasa Intercessional did not reach a consensus text. The Chair has circulated a text to participants which did not attract consensus," she said.

Mr Mathieu Yamba of the DRC chairs the KPCS. Nuland said the US remained ready to work with the KPCS chair and other participants to find a solution.

The US went on to applaud such countries as the Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea and Liberia for effective diamond sector governance. The US wants active participation of the civil society, which it sponsors, at Marange.

Interestingly, the MDC-T last week issued an almost similar statement saying Zimbabwe must comply with the KPCS requirements. This is despite the fact that the country has since complied with the minimum KPCS requirements.

"The MDC's position is that our country should be compliant with the international requirements. This unmitigated compliance with the international requirements would ensure that there is uninterrupted flow of revenue into the country. "Although considerable progress has been made towards compliance, the MDC calls upon the Government to ensure that all the domestic obstacles to full compliance are removed. The

MDC calls on the KP to offer practical assistance to Zimbabwe in order to ensure that it is fully compliant with its requirements," the MDC-T information department said.

It went on to allege heavy involvement of the military in diamond mining at Chiadzwa.

"The current system under which the military is heavily involved in the mining and marketing of diamond with revenues undeclared to the national fiscus is clearly unacceptable," the MDC-T said.

Last week Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu told the KPCS meeting in Kinshasa that the organisation needed immediate reform to save it from politicisation by the US and the European Union.

"The failure in the past to garner consensus has not been precipitated by the absence of ingredients to achieve consensus, but by sheer bad faith, lack of goodwill and over adherence to hostile foreign policies on Zimbabwe.

"We have been monitored and certified compliant, why should we continue with the monitor. What is there to monitor on a compliant mine?" Minister Mpofu said.

Release confiscated diamonds: ZMDC

Tuesday, 28 June 2011 01:00

Some of the gems taken by Belgium are thought to be in Antwerp at the World Diamond Centre.

Zimbabwe's alluvial diamonds confiscated by various countries en route to export markets should be released, following a recent decision by the Kimberley Process to allow the country to freely market its gems, an official has said.

The KP gave Zimbabwe the green light to market diamonds from Marange at its meeting in Kinshasa last week. This ended a long trade ban it had imposed on suspicion Zimbabwe's gems were "bloody".

Before the lifting of the ban, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates had reportedly confiscated Zimbabwe diamonds.

Some of the gems taken by Belgium are thought to be in Antwerp at the World Diamond Centre.

Both countries seized the diamonds on the grounds Zimbabwe was not authorised by KP to export them.

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Mr Godwills Masimirembwa said since the KP had lifted its ban on Zimbabwe's gems, countries holding Zimbabwe's
diamonds should now release them.

"Now that KP has ruled in our favour, those goods that are being held in transit by certain countries should be immediately released," he said.

He noted at the same time that the West, particularly the United States, was still trying to reverse the KP's landmark ruling.

He said the US, through its Foreign Assets Control Office, was blocking buyers from making payments to the ZMDC through international banks.

The ZMDC is one of State-run companies under US sanctions imposed in 2001.

"The movement of money is still difficult. America fully recognises that if Zimbabwe sells (its diamonds), sanctions will die naturally," said Mr Masimirembwa.

He added: "Zimbabwe will trade its diamonds for their correct value."

Meanwhile, the ZMDC chairman said diamond output, which had declined because of the trade ban, was now expected to rise after the lifting of the embargo.

"Production was affected by lack of capital," he said. "Now that sales will resume, production will pick up."

Currently, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin, Puredime and Sinozim are exploiting the Marange alluvial diamonds.

But only Mbada, Marange Resources and Anjin have been allowed by KP to export without supervision.

Zimbabwe is believed to have the potential to satisfy 25 percent of the global diamond demand. - New Ziana.

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