Saturday, March 24, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) US puts pressure on India over Marange gems

COMMENT - I guess compliance with the Kimberly Certification Process was just an excuse to starve Zimbabwe from funds from it's own diamond reserves. Because Zimbabwe has now been declared compliant - as if they were ever non-compliant - with this 'industry driven' process. Not only is Zimbabwe under sanctions, but anyone who would not comply with the international credit freeze of Zimbabwe is retaliated against. Like Malawi, when it had it's budget support suspended after extending a loan to the Zimbabwean government, and here, for all to see, India is retaliated against for the very legal act of buying Zimbabwean diamonds. This is the vindictiveness of the US government, Hillary Clinton and her State Department at work for all to see. Behind all this is erstwhile diamond monopolist Anglo-American De Beers, which started this Kimberly Process to begin with.

US puts pressure on India over Marange gems
23/03/2012 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu

THE US chair of the Kimberly Process (KP) has told Indian diamond dealers to stay away from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds claiming the gems are still under sanctions for undermining democracy in the country.

"I consider Zimbabwe diamonds as products under sanction," Gillian Milovanovic said during two-day visit to India’s Surat region where 92 percent of the world's diamonds are cut and polished.

Milovanovic took over as KP chair in January, replacing Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who successfully pushed for the resumption of Marange rough diamond sales despite opposition from the West.

The KP decision was welcomed by India’s US$43 billion diamond industry where Zimbabwe’s gems are in high demand because they are low-priced compared to stones from other producer-countries.

The US backed the KP decision but then unilaterally slapped two of the companies operating in Marange with sanctions, punishing them for going into joint ventures with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

Indian media reports said local dealers were shocked by the US decision adding most companies were now wary of exposing their links with Marange diamonds.

Industry experts say the sanctions make it virtually impossible to conduct U.S. dollar transfers to Zimbabwe, to legally pay for purchased diamonds, or to secure insurance coverage on diamond shipments, or even to get the courier services to pick up goods that were legally bought with duly signed KP certificates.

Mbada Diamonds, one of the companies added to the US sanctions list, this week warned that the move would likely imperil the livelihoods of some 100,000 people benefiting directly and indirectly from its operations.

"Mbada Diamonds cannot ignore the fact the US, the biggest global consumer of cut and polished diamonds, has selectively sanctioned the biggest mining revenue generating entity in Zimbabwe..." the company said.

Officials said the sanctions were not justified adding the US had imposed the measures "without giving due process, armed only with rumuors and bad intelligence”.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti – who expects diamond revenues to contribute US$600 million to his budget this year – has also said Zimbabwe should be allowed to freely trade its diamonds.

"Zimbabwe is a poor fragile economy and must therefore be allowed to sell and benefit from its resources,” Biti said.

He said although there had been concerns over transparency and accountability regarding the Marange operations these have since been addressed adding the country no longer operated “outside the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.”

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