The Herald (Harare)

25 June 2010

Zimbabwe: Israel Backs Zim Diamonds

Harare — ISRAEL has called for everything possible to be done to ensure Zimbabwe remains within the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme saying the country has the potential to supply nearly a quarter of global demand.

Israel is the current KP chair.

Israeli diamond consultant Mr Chaim Even-Zohar and Israel's diamond controller Mr Shmuel Mordechai made the call during an intercessory meeting in Tel Aviv earlier this week.

Their call came as Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu told delegates that Zimbabwe would export its diamonds because it had met minimum KP requirements.

Israeli media quoted Mr Even-Zohar as saying Zimbabwe could potentially meet 25 percent of global diamond demand.

His presentation included information he gathered during a recent visit to the Chiadzwa fields. Mr Mordechai added that the KP would not be the same without Zimbabwe.

"The burning issue is still Zimbabwe's status and whether it is included or excluded from the Kimberley Process. It's hard to describe the Kimberley Process without Zimbabwe or the various NGOs, whose contribution to the process is invaluable. We'll have to work hard and keep them in KP."

Minister Mpofu said: "I would like to take this opportunity to advise that Zimbabwe will be immediately exporting its diamond stockpiles because we are KP compliant and we need the money to drive the economy forward.

"We have invited the KP monitor (South Africa's Mr Abbey Chikane) to continue discharging his mandate under the supervised export arrangement.

"Zimbabwe will be contributing more than 30 percent of the diamonds produced in the world. We shall be selling with certificates issued by ourselves and in this regard the KP monitor will be free to supervise the exports."

Sources yesterday said India, Russia and all African countries - excluding West Africa - backed Mr Chikane's assessment of Zimbabwe's diamond sector.

The United States, Australia and the European Union claimed Zimbabwe had not met minimum KP requirements.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy wants diamonds from Chiadzwa KP certified.

The committee last month met Mr Chikane during his second fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe.

Committee chairman Cde Edward Chindori-Chininga (Zanu-PF) said this week Mr Chikane told them Zimbabwe had met KP requirements.

"As a committee we are fully in support of Zimbabwe's KP certification and all we want is to qualify so that we can start exporting our precious gems.

"When we met Chikane he told us that from what he had seen, Zimbabwe had met the requirements and he assured us that he would push for KP certification.

"There is consensus in the committee on the need for the country to meet KP requirements so that we can export and we have met the requirements.

He dismissed as malicious reports that Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri had denied the committee access to the Chiadzwa fields.

"We told Mr Chikane not to consider that in his report because that is an internal issue," he said.

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