Friday, April 22, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe to block British KP monitor

Zimbabwe to block British KP monitor
by Staff Reporter
22/04/2011 00:00:00

MINES Minister Obert Mpofu has said Zimbabwe will resist attempts to appoint a British monitor as the Kimberly Process’ compliance monitor for the Marange diamond fields.

Mpofu said there were plans to have British national Simon Gilberts replace Abbey Chikane of South Africa as the KP’s point-man in the controversial Marange fields.

But Harare would not work with Gilberts, Mpofu said. Zimbabwe is apparently concerned Gilberts would succumb to pressure from his country to produce negative reports in support of Western efforts to maintain the ban on Marange.

"I have heard about him (Gilberts) but he will never come to Zimbabwe as a monitor …. he is welcome as a tourist," Mpofu said.

“We still regard Chikane as the legitimate monitor because he was appointed at the same time the (Kimberley) joint monitoring work plan was set up. So if there’s no Chikane then there’s no monitoring.”

KP chairman Mathieu Lapfa Lambang Yamba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo last month gave Zimbabwe permission to export the stones in a move that is being resisted by the United States, Britain and Western human rights organisations. The KP takes decisions by consensus.

Leading diamond trade groups such as the World Diamond Council, Jewelers of America and the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America have also instructed their members to stay away from Marange diamonds.

Again the US and EU warned diamond companies against buying Marange gems with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers all US sanctions procedures, saying it would scrutinise any transactions.

Marange has been at the centre of controversy over the last three years after the KP banned exports of diamonds from there over allegations of human rights abuses and failure to comply with its minimum requirements for trading in precious stones.

The Zimbabwe government insists that all the minimum conditions have been met and has the backing of countries such as Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa as well as other African producers.

However, there were indications the stalemate might end soon after India and China reportedly brokered a possible solution at a KP Working Group of Monitoring (WGM) meeting held recently in Dubai.

India and China are member countries of international diamond regulatory body KP Certification Scheme (KPCS).

Sources who attended the WGM meeting, said a consensual draft of the Joint Work Plan (JWP) was prepared by the member countries and submitted to the KP chair Mathieu Yamba of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The KP Chair is supposed to send the draft to the Zimbabwe government for acceptance in order to resume the exports of diamonds from Marange.

"India and China have played a key role in brokering a solution for Zimbabwe. If the Zimbabwe government accepts the consensual draft agreed by the KP member nations, including US and EU, then it could resume the rough diamond exports," a senior official in the India diamond industry said recently.

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