Harare - Zimbabwe on Thursday began auctioning 300 000 carats of diamonds
from its controversial eastern diamond fields where the army has
been accused of rights abuses against civilians.
"The auction has started after shortlisted companies were vetted
and authorised to be part of the auction," a senior official in the
diamond industry told AFP.
"The auctioning of the diamonds is expected to take three days."
In November, Zimbabwe escaped a Kimberley Process ban despite
calls for the country to be suspended over abuses in Marange, with
the global body giving Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms
to comply with its regulations.
The southern African country went into partnership with two
South African-owned firms to extract diamonds last October.
The chairman of Mbada Diamonds, a subsidiary of one of the South
African firms, said the auction will earn the government 80%
of the total sales revenue and be followed by a similar sale next
"The entire process of mining, transportation to marketing is
being done in compliance with the requirements of the Kimberley
Process," Robert Mhlanga told the state-run Herald.
In November, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said the army and police
had withdrawn from the fields and that Zimbabwe had complied with
more than 90% of the reforms set by the "conflict diamond"