The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: ZMDC Chairman Blasts Sanctions

Victoria Falls — The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman, Mr Godwills Masimirembwa, has lashed out at some Western countries for slapping punitive measures on international companies wishing to buy diamonds from Marange. Addressing the inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference

here on Monday, Mr Masimirembwa said it was shocking that Zimbabwe was being punished by some Western countries for meeting some thresholds required by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.

"Companies from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, among other countries, want to come and do business with us. However, they are not coming because they fear punishment by their governments if they buy the Marange diamonds. We are saying the OFAC sanctions must go.

"The sanctions affect the investors too. When you trade with Zimbabwe you also become victims yet there is nothing wrong with the Marange diamonds as we are over-compliant with the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme requirements," he said.

The diamond conference running under the theme "Unlocking Zimbabwe's Diamond Potential Together" was opened by President Mugabe on Monday and it ended yesterday.

Mr Masimirembwa said that there was potential in the Marange diamonds, adding that it was high time that the investors came in.

He said it was amazing that the West never talked about human rights abuses when there was chaos in Marange as thousands of people from all over the world extracted the diamonds.

"We have the best production and security arrangements you can talk of. When the diamonds were being smuggled, there were no sanctions. The ZMDC and its partners are now suffering for restoring order in Marange," he said.

"If one pays in US dollars, all the transfers go through the United States of America and that money, if meant for diamonds in Zimbabwe, will be frozen.

"It means you will not get your diamonds and we will not get our money. You have to appear like a crook to avoid detection," he said.

Mr Masimirembwa said it was shocking to note that the US, Britain and the European Union continued with their illegal sanctions yet the country had opened the Marange diamond fields to all Western countries and organisations that were interested to visit the area.

He said the KP monitor, Mr Abbey Chikane, should be commended for informing the world that Zimbabwe was now over-complaint with the gems organisation's standards.

"Anyone in the country (diplomats including the EU, civic society and journalists) can visit the area. So where are the compliance issues coming from? The diamonds feed into the national budget and the revenue is important to the people of Zimbabwe. So by imposing the sanctions it means you are denying the people of Zimbabwe the right to benefit from their God-given resources," he said.

He told the investors that the country's laws were very clear that 51 percent shares would go to Government through the ZMDC, the State's investment arm in the mining sector.

Meanwhile, the KP chairperson, Mrs Gillian Milovanovic, lauded the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development for successfully organising such a conference.

She said during her tenure as KP chair she sought to improve on a number of issues affecting the organisation.

"As chair, I have also sought to improve the flow of information, increase transparency and foster dialogue within the KP and with the outside world. I see my

attendance at this conference as an opportunity to continue that work, especially as this Zimbabwe Diamond Conference comes just weeks before the KP Plenary in Washington, DC," she said.

Mr Milovanovic said the KP wanted to prevent rough diamonds from becoming a source of revenue for rebels seeking to overthrow legitimate governments and to prevent a loss of consumer confidence in diamonds owing to their potential association with blood and violence.

"In practice, the KP also created a level playing field of huge importance to all producers. A rough diamond from any source - whether from a small and labour-intensive artisanal mine or from a large and mechanised commercial venture - is a legitimate KP diamond so long as its export is accompanied by a valid KP certificate.

"A rough diamond from any KP participant country, no matter whether it comes from one of the poorest or richest corners of the world, is a KP diamond so long as it comes with that same country's KP certification, it meets the minimum requirements."

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