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Premier eFinance: Alarm bells still ringing over Zimbabwe’s “blood diamonds.”
Human rights groups want diamonds from Mugabe’s Marange mine blacklisted as “blood diamonds” but most member nations of the Kimberly Process are weary of comparing a government to insurgents.
By: Premier eFinance
At stake is what happens to the Marange deposits in eastern Zimbabwe, believed to be the biggest diamond find in a generation, and the definition of what kind of diamonds should be kept out of international markets.
Current restrictions on diamond sales are designed to ensure that buyers are not inadvertently funding wars in Africa. The rules were established in 2003 after rebel groups in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia sold millions of dollars in rough diamonds on the world market, and used the profits to fund vicious insurgencies. These diamonds came to be known as conflict, or blood, diamonds.
Human rights groups believe that the same restrictions should be applicable to governments acquiring diamonds through serious human rights violations. They are trying to enforce a ban on diamonds from Marange, which the ruling party in Zimbabwe seized in 2009, allegedly by killing hundreds of prospectors. The ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe maintains control of the area through combination of of violence and forced labor which has enriched the party elite and filled the war chest but contributed little to the national budget, according to rights groups.
A temporary moratorium on diamonds from the area has been in place but numerous African nations refuse to draw parallels between the Zimbabwe government and rebels in Sierra Leone and Liberia, contending that that criticism of Zimbabwe is part of a Western agenda to control global diamond markets.
"It is clear that there are fears Zimbabwean diamonds would flood the market," Kennedy Hamutenya, Namibia's diamond commissioner, who supports the export of Marange gems told Premier eFinance.
Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe has said he will sell the diamonds in defiance of any ban put in place by the Kimberly Process.
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