The Movement for Democratic Change yesterday called on the Kimberley Process to lift the ban on Marange diamonds saying the people of Zimbabwe and the country’s civil servants would benefit tremendously from the revenue generated by the diamonds.
In a statement yesterday the party called on the KP to offer practical assistance to Zimbabwe to ensure that it was fully compliant to enable the country to trade its diamonds legitimately and have a steady flow of revenue.
“This unmitigated compliance with the international requirements would ensure that there is uninterrupted flow of revenue into the country,” the party said. “The people of Zimbabwe in general and our civil servants in particular would tremendously benefit from the revenue generated from the sale of diamonds.”
The MDC call came in the midst of the KP intersessional meeting in Kinshasa at which the Zimbabwe diamonds are one of the main items for discussion. The meeting began on Monday and is scheduled to end today.
Zimbabwe’s civil servants are on strike demanding a 150 percent salary increase but Finance Minister and MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti insists that the government does not have money.
The International Monetary Fund whose team is currently in the country says Zimbabwe must not increase the salary of civil servants as this would derail its recovery programme. Instead, it has urged the government to get rid of ghost workers first.
The MDC’s call seems to be at loggerheads with some local civic groups that have traditionally supported the party but still insist that the KP should not lift the ban because the country’s diamonds are “bloody diamonds”.
There has been intense lobbying by the diamond industry led by the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the World Diamond Council to lift the ban on Zimbabwe diamonds because the continued ban could destroy the KP and the industry.
While calling for the lifting of the ban, the MDC called on the government to ensure that all the domestic obstacles to full compliance were removed.
“The MDC calls on the KP to offer practical assistance to Zimbabwe in order to ensure that it is fully compliant with its requirements. It is clear if the diamonds are traded legitimately this would assist in the economic recovery of Zimbabwe.
“The MDC believes diamonds and other mineral resources belong to the people of Zimbabwe and must be exploited for national benefit in a transparent manner. The current system under which the military is heavily involved in the mining and marketing of diamond with revenues undeclared to the national fiscus is clearly unacceptable,” the party said.
The Zimbabwe government has insisted that it will continue to sell its diamonds with or without KP approval because it has met the KP requirements. The backing of the MDC could therefore finally put the matter to rest and enable a transparent trade in the country’s gems.
The diamond industry in Surat, India, has been anxiously waiting for a resolution of the Zimbabwe problem as Zimbabwe diamonds can create 250 000 jobs in Surat.
Surat has in return promised to develop the diamond polishing industry in Zimbabwe.