The Herald (Harare)

16 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Thumbs Up for Successful Diamond Conference

opinion

We hail the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, as the parent ministry, and the two State enterprises that fall under it, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, for successfully hosting the just ended inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference.

The conference that was held in Victoria Falls from November 12 to 13 brought together over 480 delegates drawn from different continents.

Among the distinguished delegates were stakeholders in the mining sector, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, World Diamond Council, mines ministers from the region and diamond buyers and dealers.

President Mugabe officially opened the conference with guest of honour, former South African president Thabo Mbeki giving the keynote address.

The conference could not have come at a better time given the intensified campaign by the usual Western rabble-rousers who want our diamonds barred from the international market.

Their evil intentions were manifest in the manner they sponsored the so-called watchdog, Partnership Africa Canada, to release a scandalous report trashing our diamonds to coincide with the first day of the conference.

The report, whose contents were naturally swallowed hook, line and sinker by international media and their local surrogates, was meant to divert the world's attention from the conference.

Ironically, just a few days before the conference KPCS monitor Mr Abbey Chikane had hailed diamond mining at Chiadzwa describing it as a model operation of international standards.

This left us wondering from where the so-called Partnership Africa Canada was getting its scandalous allegations that sought to portray the Chiadzwa gems as blood diamonds.

Not least the claim that US$2 billion in diamond revenue had been stolen by the Zanu-PF top brass.

What was quite ironic was Partnership Africa Canada's silence on the over 100 000 tonnes of alluvial soils De Beers carted away from Marange over a 15-year period under the guise of prospecting for diamonds. And the over US$30 million that Zimbabwe has lost to the US' Office of Foreign Assets Control that has been intercepting proceeds from diamond exports.

These are all documented cases of grand theft, not spurious allegations that can't stand KPCS scrutiny.

Once again we hail the Ministry of Mines and the State enterprises under it for taking the fight to those who declared unwarranted economic warfare on our people. By bringing the world to Zimbabwe, Minister Obert and his team showed that Zimbabwe has nothing to hide. Delegates saw and heard for themselves that the only game in Chiadzwa is KPCS compliance.

And we hope the Western ambassadors and plenipotentiaries who were in attendance got the unequivocal message from the delegates.

Sanctions on diamonds companies are misplaced and serve no other purpose than enrich the Western brigands who are using them as cover to intercept and steal proceeds from our diamond exports.

The conference acquainted delegates with the Zimbabwe Diamond Policy that is expected to help the country optimise mineral exploration, attract investment and address structural deficiencies in existing legislation.

Let the message from Victoria Falls reverberate to Washington where the KPCS plenary convenes from November 27 to 30. Diamonds, not sanctions, are forever.

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