Tuesday, January 15, 2013

(STICKY) (SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Hands off Zim!

Hands off Zim!
Sunday, 13 January 2013 00:00
Itai Mazire

Russia and South Africa have implored the United Nations to actively seek the scrapping of Western sanctions against diamond mining companies operating in Zimbabwe’s Marange district, saying the embargo will negatively affect free trade on the world diamond market.

The two UN Security Council members combined forces at the General Assembly of the world body held mid-last month to also applaud the move to allow Zimbabwe to export diamonds mined at the fields without special monitoring.

According to Diamond Intelligence Briefs released last Wednesday, the two countries said the sanctions were not yielding any positive results.

Addressing delegates to the General Assembly, South Africa’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Mr Doctor Mashabane, commended the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) for its decision to lift special monitoring measures on the Marange diamond fields.

“It is our fervent hope that this development will pave way for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United States government on the trade of diamonds from the Marange area,” Mr Mashabane was quoted as saying in one of the intelligence briefs.

“The diamond industry plays a major role in driving economic growth and prosperity in many countries, especially in Africa and the rest of the developing world.

“Hence, there is need for us to applaud the Zimbabwean authorities, industry and the civil society that complied with the KPCS requirements.”

Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Mr Dmitry Maksimychev, said it was important for the KPCS to respect the sovereignty of member countries.

He also attacked American attempts to redefine the term “conflict diamonds”, saying the initiative did not centre on the key objectives of the KP.

The redefinition of the term has widely been viewed as part of moves by the West to block the sale of diamonds mined in Marange. “There is no need to press ahead with hasty reforms, specifically persistent attempts to redefine conflict diamonds,” he said.

“Attention should be focused on perfecting the work of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in its current form.

“To artificially politicise the process would have a negative effect on it (KPCS) achieving its core tasks. Hence efforts should be aimed at motivating states to participate in its work.

“Sanctions (on Zimbabwe) failed to provide positive results, and instead, led to gray areas of trade.”

Mines and mining development ministry legal advisor Mr Farai Mutamangira said the calls by the two countries clearly indicated that America’s war on the Zimbabwean economy was negatively impacting major players in the world diamond industry.

He said the imposition of sanctions on diamond firms in Marange was affecting the economy.

“The moral obliquity associated with these illegal sanctions is becoming clearer and clearer to our friends, and the recent listing of diamond mines by the US demonstrates the blatancy of the determination by the West to annihilate our economy,” said Mr Mutamangira.

Last year, the United States government added Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources to its sanctions list, which essentially aims to isolate individuals or companies in targeted countries.

Both companies operate at the diamond fields in terms of a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
The ZMDC is already on the embargo list on account of it being State-owned.

The extension of the punitive measures came after the KPCS gave Zimbabwe the green light to market diamonds mined in the district without any special monitoring measures.

In its 2011 report, the KPCS ranked Zimbabwe the fifth largest diamond producer in the world.

The world diamond body said local diamond production continued to surge despite major declines in several top producing countries.

The report also indicated the economic sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and its allies were forcing Zimbabwe to sell its precious stones at a lower price.

“In 2011, Zimbabwe exported its goods at a price of US$54,31 per carat, though their book price was US$56,01 per carat,” reads part of the report.

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