Zimbabwean coalition partner calls for lifting of diamond trade ban

22 June 2011 - 22:40 By Sapa-dpa
Rough diamonds
Rough diamonds

The party that makes up half of Zimbabwe’s government called for the lifting of an international ban on the trade in diamonds from the country’s controversial Marange fields.

The Kimberly Process, implemented in 2003, was designed to ensure that internationally traded diamonds do not come from areas where the mining of the jewels is used to fund conflicts.

   Diamonds in Zimbabwe have drawn international suspicion due to reports of human rights abuses associated with their mining, specifically by members of armed forces who allegedly force civilians to mine the precious stones for them.

   But the Movement for Democratic Change part Wednesday called for  the Kimberly Process to delist its diamonds from its watchlist because the trade would help boost the country’s ailing economy.

   “The people of Zimbabwe in general and our civil servants in particular would tremendously benefit from the revenue generated from the sale of diamonds,” read a statement.

   “The MDC calls on the (Kimberly Process) to offer practical assistance to Zimbabwe in order to ensure that it is fully compliant with its requirements. It is clear if the diamonds are traded legitimately, this would assist in the economic recovery of Zimbabwe,”    The MDC statement comes as the self-regulating international diamond watchdog meets in the Democratic Republic of Congo this week.

   The MDC comments came as Zimbabwe’s civil servants embark on an indefinite strike, demanding a pay hike of 150 per cent. The government has said it has insufficient funds to meet those demands.

   “The MDC believes diamonds and other mineral resources belong to  the people of Zimbabwe and must be exploited for national benefit in a transparent manner. 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.”