5 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Diamond Trade Watchdog Criticized Over Zim Decision

The international diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), is facing criticism for endorsing Zimbabwe's diamond trade and lifting the monitoring mechanisms previously in place to oversee the local industry.

The KP made this decision at the end of its annual plenary session last week, which saw a number of civil society and human rights groups raise concern about the Zim diamond trade. Chief among these concerns are claims that diamond profits are funding a "parallel" government in Zimbabwe, whose main aim is to keep the Zanu-PF regime in power.

But the KP has now officially endorsed the Zim trade, saying the country is fully "compliant", despite the concerns raised by civic groups. The KP said, as a result, it would withdraw its monitoring team because Zimbabwe fulfilled all the requirements to certify its own diamond exports.

Zimbabwe's diamond trade has been in the media spotlight since 2008 when hundreds of diamond panners were allegedly murdered by the military at the Chiadzwa diamond fields. The country was later suspended from international trade over concerns of human rights abuses. But the KP never took decisive punitive action against the then Zanu-PF government, and has continued its lenient treatment of the subsequent Zanu-PF run Mines Ministry.

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