The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Diamond Indaba Oversubscribed

The diamond conference has been oversubscribed as it emerged yesterday that scores of local and international organisations were still making efforts to book seats and attend the inaugural edition of the indaba in Zimbabwe.

The conference will be held on November 12 and 13 in Victoria Falls and delegates are expected to start arriving in the resort town over the weekend.

Mines and Mining Development Ministry Permanent Secretary Mr Prince Mupazviriho, yesterday said Government had left the event open as people continued to make some inquiries.

"The conference has been over subscribed . . . There are so many people who are still saying they want to attend the diamond conference. These are both local and outsiders. We are saying those who want can come as long as they can secure their own accommodation.

"The delegates start arriving in the country (Victoria Falls) at the weekend. So far every thing is on course," said Mr Mupazviriho.

He said all the delegates officially invited had confirmed their participation, adding there were no reports of people threatening to scuttle the event.

The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme chairperson Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic and high profile speakers and representatives from the African Diamond Producers (ADP), among other diamond stakeholders have confirmed their participation.

The leaders will represent centres including India, Antwerp, Dubai, South Africa, Ramat Gan and New York.

Other officials to attend the event are mining ministers from South Africa, Angola, Namibia and DRC and leaders of the Zimbabwe diamond mining industry, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation among others. Mr Mupazviriho said Government has also invited members of the Civil Society Coalition.

Members of the Kimberley Process' Civil Society Coalition representatives in Zimbabwe are expected to debate the subject of "Diamonds, Engine of Local Beneficiation" with ZMDC officials and Mr Abbey Chikane, the monitor for Zimbabwe. The first Pan-African gathering focusing on the potential of Zimbabwe as a global diamond producer has succeeded in attracting participants from over 20 countries.

Recently, Mr Chikane hailed diamond mining in Zimbabwe saying it had attained international standards and could be used as a model.

However, the country is yet to realise maximum benefits from the gems due to the West's illegal economic sanctions regime that has seen it failing to sell the gems freely on the world market.

The country has since revised downwards potential revenue from the diamonds from US$600 million to US$150 million. Money meant to buy diamonds from Zimbabwean companies has been intercepted and forfeited by the US' Office of Foreign Asset Control.

Some observers say the diamond conference will be an eye opener for many countries and organisations that have been trying to discredit diamonds from Chiadzwa.

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