By Shout-Africa – Harare – The cabinet of the Zimbabwe’s coalition government has agreed to immediately embark on selling diamonds from a controversial diamond field in the east of the country, according to a state-controlled daily newspaper.
The decision reported by the Herald and citing Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu, flies in the face of a continuing ban by the world watchdog on so-called blood diamonds on the sale of Chiadzwa gems because of human rights abuses.
“It was clear from the meeting that the cabinet agrees with the immediate sale of our diamonds,” Mpofu was quoted as saying in the report. “However, we need to come up with a mechanism of proceeding with this process.”
Chiadzwa, regarded as the wealthiest diamond find in the world in a century, has been embroiled in controversy for several years. In 2006, the army violently drove out around 35,000 illegal miners. Human rights groups say an estimated 200 people were killed and thousands assaulted. Soldiers are also accused of looting and smuggling out
The Kimberley Process (KP) diamond certification scheme, which is aimed at curbing the trade in diamonds used to fuel conflict, banned Zimbabwe from exporting diamonds after the alleged abuses came to light. The government has reportedly accumulated a stockpile of about 4.5 million carats of Chiadzwa diamonds since the ban came into effect late last year.
A recent meeting of KP members in Israel failed to agree on the assessment earlier this month by a KP monitor that Zimbabwe had met minimum requirements for selling diamonds. The watchdog body is due to meet next in November when the issued will again be discussed.