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Published: August 5, 2010
“The System has failed to thwart trading of diamonds mined as a result of human suffering and although Zimbabwe’s current dealings and previous defiance may frustrate many of their global critics, the country has led the attack in exposing the vulnerability of the KP,” Jackson said in a statement from the ADC headquarters in Luanda, Angola.
Chikane was authorized by the World Diamond Council at their summit last month in Russia to allow limited sales of gemstones from the heavily contested Marange fields starting this month. His weekend visit is meant to rubber-stamp that decision.
Jackson insisted in his statement that illegal activities were still ongoing at Marange, making a decision to allow foreign sales of the stones highly questionable.
“Gems lie near the surface of the ground and are easily collected by soldiers, smugglers and illegal miners who work for them,” Jackson said. “The government’s shrewdness has been demonstrated best by their exploitation of an ineffectual KP diamond certification scheme.”
The visit by Chikane at the weekend has been clouded by legal issues and international pressure after United States President Barack Obama last week signed into force a law that would make it mandatory for listed American firms to ensure they only buy stones from regions free from conflict.
Legal owner of the Marange diamond claims, African Consolidated Resources’ CEO, Andrew Cranswick, hinted last week that the anticipated sale would be illegal even if the conflict issues appear to have been resolved. It was expected that the London-listed ACR would take legal action against any international buyers, especially Western firms, who participated in the impending sales.
Jackson said another problem was that Zimbabwe had an unknown quantity of stockpiled diamonds – some of them mined during the brutal army Operation No Return which, according to rights groups resulted in the death of more than 200 civilians.
“The government hoards and controls a massive stockpile of both industrial diamonds and more than 40 percent of gem-quality diamonds,” Jackson said.
He lamented that the country’s diamond industry was dogged by legitimacy problems when it boasted “one of the richest alluvial diamond deposits in the world, which could effortlessly position the country as a leading diamond producer”.
The ADC is sending its own officials alongside Chikane, to assess the situation on the ground at Marange before they present a report to the KP, to be used as the basis for further discussion at the KP’s annual summit in November. (ZimEye, Zimbabwe)