Shabangu: Stop sanctions on Zim diamonds
Zimbabwe's gem trade is tainted by allegations of human rights abuses. Shutterstock
Vic Falls - South Africa and Namibia on Monday for an end to sanctions on Zimbabwean diamonds imposed after human rights groups said hundreds of diggers were killed by the police and army, and sale proceeds were being channelled to the military.
Speaking at the inaugural Zimbabwe diamond conference on Monday, Mines Minister Susan Shabangu said South Africa is committed to lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Namibian Mines Minister Isak Katali also called at the conference for an end to sanctions on the Zimbabwe gem trade.
“The discovery of diamonds in Zimbabwe has been a thorn in the flesh to those that have issues with Zimbabwe to exercise its sovereignty over its minerals and other natural wealth,” Katali said.
“They tried to block the export of diamonds and vilify this country and its diamond sector.”
Meanwhile former president Thabo Mbeki said Zimbabwean natural resources should benefit locals and not a group of elites.
In his address at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference on Monday, where he was the guest speaker, Mbeki said the country’s political leadership have to ensure that the benefits cascade to the masses.
“All the parties in the global political agreement must absolutely ensure that the diamond mining industry is not governed by a predatory elite which uses its access to state power to enrich itself, against the interests of the people as a whole, acting in collusion with the mining companies,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s mines minister told the same conference that at least US$30m is trapped by international institutions under the anti-Marange diamond campaign.
As a result, the country’s mines minister said, there is no need for full disclosure in Zimbabwe’s ongoing mining transparency initiative.
“How can you be transparent when there are hyenas chasing after you? They want to know who is buying your diamonds, which country they are coming from, which bank they are using and which flight they are on.”
Chaim Even-Zohar, president of Tel Aviv-based diamond consulting service Tacy Limited, told the conference Zimbabwe is earning 75% of potential diamond value due to economic sanctions as it cannot get the best market prices.
Zohar added Zimbabwe has potential to produce 8 to 10% of global production but is hamstrung by restrictions, which has seen it selling the gems at a discount.