Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kimberly Process Shoots Down US Plot Against Zimbabwe

KPCS shoots down US plot

Saturday, 26 May 2012 21:54
Kuda Bwititi
Zimbabwe Herald

Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) members have shot down an audacious bid by the grouping’s chairperson,

Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic,to redefine its statutes as part of efforts to discredit diamonds produced in Marange.

The move was aimed at putting Zimbabwe under the spotlight during next week’s KPCS Intercessional meeting in Washington DC.
In an interview last week, Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said Ambassador Milovanovic sent questionnaires to KPCS members to drum up support around a proposal to redefine the term “conflict diamonds”.

Dr Mpofu said 99 percent of the members of the grouping rejected the proposal which was drawn up after the West realised that allegations that gems mined in Marange are “blood diamonds” were no longer sustainable.

“The majority of members rejected the proposal through the questionnaires that were sent by Milovanovic,” he said.

“I can say 99 percent of members rejected it and these include the African Diamond Producers, India and even most countries from the West itself. We know very well that Zimbabwe is not supposed to be on the top of the agenda at the meeting, but our detractors want to put us under the spotlight.”

Dr Mpofu said the New York meeting was expected to focus on the gains that Zimbabwe has made in the KPCS.

He said there are, however, attempts to shift focus. The minister said the gains registered so far should enable the country to trade its diamonds unconditionally.

“Ordinarily, Zimbabwe should not be on the agenda because the focus of the meeting should be on consolidating the gains that we have made to date as well as the report back from monitors so that our diamond trade is allowed to flow without tussles with the West.

“Our detractors see that the achievements that we have made in Marange are tangible and we have exceeded the minimum requirements of compliance. So, they want to find new ways of denigrating us.”

In her proposal, which she also presented to the World Diamond Council, Ambassador Milovanovic urged members to support the “modernisation of conflict diamonds”, a move aimed at tightening the screws on operations in Marange.

Part of her correspondence to the World Diamond Council reads:

“But the critical issue, as we see it, is to modernise the definition of a conflict diamond.”

She said the modified definition would cover any situation of violence that is related to diamonds. This position tallies with unfounded Western allegations of violence in Marange.

“The definition of ‘conflict diamond’ used within the KPCS could be modified to cover ‘rough diamonds used to finance, or otherwise directly related to, armed conflict or other situations of violence’.

“I want to emphasise that this modified definition will encompass situations already encountered and dealt with in ad-hoc manner by the KP and will include clear guidelines derived from international legal principles that ensure all nations and trading entities know exactly what diamonds must be prevented from entering the supply chain, on a mine-by-mine or site-by-site basis.

“This new definition of conflict diamond would, like the present one, represent a minimum requirement for certification. In practice, there is nothing new about much of this. In some ways, we are advocating the codification of current ad-hoc practice. For example, the KP is already implementing a mine-by-mine compliance approach to Marange.”

KPCS intercessional meetings are held annually and members of the various working groups come together to discuss issues specific to their working group.

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