One of the leading United States diamond traders which has been at the forefront of encouraging its clients not to trade in Marange rough diamonds, the Rapaport Group, said in its newsletter yesterday it is doing so to comply with the US Patriot Act and the OFAC regulations raising questions as to whether the United States considers Zimbabwe a terrorist state.
The US Patriot Act actually stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act and was passed in 2001. The act was passed to enhance security against terrorism including domestic tourism .
OFAC stands for the Office of Foreign Assets Control and is the treasury department that enforces economic and trade sanctions on individuals and countries designated by the United States. In the case of Zimbabwe it enforces among other things the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA).
The export of diamonds from Marange is banned by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme- the rough diamond regulator- because of alleged human rights violations which have led the diamonds to be labelled “blood diamonds” although this does not fall under the official KP definition.
Zimbabwe has argued that its mines are now compliant with the KP guidelines but the United States and the European Union have insisted that the diamonds cannot be exported.
It is therefore no longer clear whether their argument is based on non-compliance with the KP guidelines , human rights violations, or because one of the major operators in the Marange diamonds, the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, is on the sanctions list.
The US and the EU have denied arguments by the Zimbabwean government that Zimbabwe is under economic sanctions saying both US and EU sanctions are aimed at targeted individuals.
However, The Insider, has just learnt that Zimbabwe is also under another set of United States sanctions under its International Emergency Economic Powers Act. It has been under these sanctions 2003 for undermining democratic institutions.
The Insider has sought clarification from Sharon Hudson Dean, the public affairs officer at the US embassy in Harare, on whether this is a separate set of sanctions or it is the same as ZIDERA but has not received any response.
The first inquiry was sent on 30 May and was followed up in June but she has not responded up to now.