Free at last or just another lull – Zimbabwe’s diamonds saga continues


The Zimbabwe diamonds saga does not seem to have ended despite reports that the Kimberley Process which met in Kinshasa from Monday to Thursday has given the country the green-light to export diamonds from Marange’s two mines, Marange Resources and Mbada.

Reports now say the KP decision was unilateral and was made by KP chair Mathieu Yamba who had already given Zimbabwe the go-ahead in March. Civil society and Western countries are still opposed to the deal while African countries, China and India support the decision.

United States diamond trading network, Rapaport, issued a trade alert advising its clients not to buy Marange diamonds. “TRADE ALERT: MARANGE GOODS EXPECTED TO BE RELEASED SHORTLY. RESPONSIBLE BUYERS SHOULD REQUIRE SUPPLIER GUARANTEE THAT THEY ARE NOT SELLING THESE DIAMONDS TO THEM,” Rapaport said in its newsletter circulated yesterday.

The United States, Britain and the European Union all issued statements saying the ban had not been lifted. While the argument that has been used to ban Marange diamonds all along was that the gems are “blood diamonds”, the split seems to be more reflective of the political divisions among the players.

Rapaport has previously advised its clients not to buy Marange diamonds because the mining companies are under United States sanctions.

The continued impasse could split the KP as it now pits the producers against the buyers, and East versus West. African countries are among the biggest producers while India and China are the major polishers and the United States is the biggest buyer of jewellery.

But the equation could soon change. For India, Marange diamonds mean jobs. For China, they are any entry into the lucrative trade.

China is quietly becoming the largest market force in the world, largely because of its population and vast cash surpluses.

Its middle class is now more than the entire population of the United States.

It has just overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest economy. And now sales for sedans in China have just overtaken those in the United States.

One British economist, writing about China had this to say: “The West had been economically comfortable for many years; life is now becoming distinctly uncomfortable. No amount of education, careful financial planning or flexibility is likely to provide insulation against the redistributional forces unleashed as a consequence of the rise of emerging economies”.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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