Zimbabwe puts US in a fix


Zimbabwe has put the United States in a fix. The world’s most powerful country wants to become vice-chair of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the body that regulates the trade of rough diamonds, this year which would automatically lead to chairmanship next year but Zimbabwe is putting on the brakes.

United States deputy assistant secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Page was in Zimbabwe last week to try to persuade Zimbabwe to agree to the US taking over the post of vice-chair.

A statement from the United States embassy in Harare, however, did not mention anything about the KP or Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

It said: “Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs, Ms. Susan Page, is in Zimbabwe for a four-day visit. During her visit, Page will be in Harare and also Bulawayo, meeting separately with senior government officials, representatives from the business community, and civil society leaders. Her visit to Zimbabwe reflects the importance the United States Government places on engaging a broad array of Zimbabwean leaders to foster bilateral economic and diplomatic relations.”

 Zimbabwe which was given conditional approval to export its diamonds from Marange but has apparently turned this down has already publicly objected to the US becoming vice- chair of the KP.

 In a letter sent to KP chair Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ministry of Mines legal advisor, Farai Mutamangira said: “We understand from unofficial sources that through some procedure which appears to be a written procedure the candidacy of the US as nominee for the vice-chair has been put to vote. Should this be correct we write to advise that Zimbabwe objects to the vice-chairmanship of the USA strongly. This position will continue to subsist and may only be considered depending on progress on the outstanding issue of the US sponsored violence clause on the Draft Administrative Decision on Zimbabwe.”

The Administrative Decision which was secured on January 17 states among other things that there should be an export ban on Zimbabwe diamonds stockpiled between 2007 and 2009. It also has a “violence clause” which can trigger an immediate export ban of Zimbabwe’s diamonds if three members of the KP launch a complaint that violence has resumed in Marange.

Zimbabwe has rejected the decision and is now reportedly exporting its diamonds out of the KP as there is nothing legally to stop it from selling its diamonds within the country.

Those in the diamond industry have complained that this is bad for the industry as no one knows how many diamonds Zimbabwe can flood into the market especially now since the market is short of rough diamonds.

Decisions in the KP are reached by consensus which means that Zimbabwe alone can block the US from becoming KP vice-chair.


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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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