Mbada Diamonds chairman Robert Mhlanga says the international market has to destigmatise Zimbabwean gems to help improve the local diamond industry.
Between 2009 and 2011 when the Kimberly Process approved the sale of gems internationally, Zimbabwean diamonds were classified as ‘blood diamonds’ because state security agencies were alleged to have committed killings, beatings and using forced labour at its Marange fields.
Zimbabwe has since held four auctions in Antwerp, Belgium and Dubai but in September, about 500 000 ounces of diamonds worth $45 million were seized in Belgium after the European country allowed South African firm Amari Platinum Holdings to recover part of a $500 million debt owed by state owned miner, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
The ruling was later reversed, but Mhlanga told delegates attending the second diamond conference taking place in Harare that the “entire diamond industry must close ranks and cease politicising the Zimbabwe diamond industry”.
“The Zimbabwe diamond industry just wants to forge ahead with its business of mining and marketing and value-adding diamonds both locally and globally,” he said.
Mhlanga said there was need to encourage interaction with all stakeholders of the diamond industry to ‘level the playing field and insulate the diamond business from the brutalities of unwarranted detraction.’
Mhlanga equated the seizure of the diamond revenue to “high seas piracy”.
“This development stifles not only our economy and communities which should benefit from these proceeds,” he said.
“This is uncalled for and our call today is for us as a forum to make concerted efforts to depoliticise the global diamond industry.”- The Source