Sunday, February 19, 2012

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Speaks on Diamond Industry

PM on diamonds

Sunday, 19 February 2012 00:00
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi and Itai Mazire

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu have dismissed Global Witness as an irrelevant body after the Western NGO released a report last week discrediting the gems from the Chiadzwa fields.

The Global Witness report titled "Diamonds: A Good Deal for Zimbabwe" was released on February 14 and called on the Government to cancel the licences for Anjin and Mbada Diamonds as well as review all the diamond operations in Marange.

Responding to a question on the Global Witness report during his two-day tour of Marange last week, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said the NGO should not interfere with the operations in the vast diamond fields as due processes had been followed to mine the gems.

"When Anjin and other diamond-mining companies were given licences to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe, all processes were followed," he said.

The Prime Minister said the Kimberly Process, which is mandated with regularising diamond-mining activities across the globe, had given Zimbabwe full rights to exploit the precious mineral.

"Secondly we must understand that the KPCS is an international organisation that certifies all diamond operations.

"If they (KPCS) were not satisfied with what is taking place, they would not have allowed Zimbabwe to sell its diamonds.

"I'm sure that KPCS has certified the country's diamonds because we are operating within KPCS standards. People may have their own opinions and objections, but as long as we are complaint, we can mine and sell our diamonds," he said.

Dr Mpofu said Global Witness had embarked on a smear campaign against the country's diamonds after it left the KPCS last year.

"What they are saying has no effect on the KPCS because they walked out from the KPCS last year. They do not have any claim to legitimacy but if they want to speak about our diamonds, they should come through the KPCS," he said.

Dr Mpofu said Global Witness was a front for De Beers and Canada.

"The truth of the matter is that De Beers and Canada are the two forces which are using all means possible to discredit Zimbabwean diamonds. De Beers is waging a war against us because we exposed them for looting our diamonds," he said.

Global Witness has been on a protracted campaign to discredit the country's gems since the Government took over the operations in Marange in 2008.

In 2010, the UK-US-based NGO released a report dubbed "Return of the Blood Diamond", making false claims of murder and human rights abuses in Marange.

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