Zimbabwe’s diamonds will be in the spotlight in the next six weeks but for different reasons.
This weekend United States trading company Rapaport, which insists that its members must not trade in Marange diamonds because they are under United States sanctions, is hosting a conference and has invited “award-winning” activist Farai Maguwu.
Next month, Zimbabwe is hosting an international diamond conference at the Victoria Falls at which it expects Eli Izhakoff of the World Diamond Council among others.
Maguwu will lead a special session at the Rapaport Fair Trade Jewellery Conference in Las Vegas on Sunday, 3 June.
The programme does not say what he will talk about but it says that there will be a special lunch to honour Maguwu, who has been at the forefront of exposing human rights violations at the Marange diamond fields.
Maguwu who featured prominently in Zimbabwe’s blood diamonds that was aired on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Special Assignment in 2009, says for example, more than 400 panners were “murdered” by the government under its Operation Hakudzokwi.
He also says the diamond rush began in 2005 when African Consolidated Resources, which claims to have discovered the diamonds, only moved in in 2006.
The conference organisers are also fund-raising for Maguwu as their conference call clearly states that those wishing to support Maguwu’s work should make donations to the Fair Trade Jewelry Association, a US registered charity.
State media reports on the other hand are touting the Victoria Falls conference as Zimbabwe’s first international diamond conference.
“This is an international forum that will address the state of and the changing dynamics in the international diamond industry from mine to market and how Zimbabwe can position itself to exploit its diamond wealth and how investors can partner in this growth,” The Herald quoted the organisers as saying.
The line-up of international speakers is impressive, but they have all pressed for the lifting of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Kimberley Process Certification Process before. Is there anything new that they will do to get the United States to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe diamonds?.
The United States, which is the current chair, has refused to lift sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation which is the major shareholder in the Marange operations.