Global Policy Forum

Zimbabwe Diamond Export Plans Depend on `Credible' Anti-Smuggling Strategy

Documents from the Kimberly Process reveal that the international diamond watchdog has urged Zimbabwe to combat smuggling of Marange diamonds to Mozambique. The Kimberly Process has also asked Zimbabwe to allow civil rights organizations full access to Marange. The Zimbabwe government has yet to comment on these developments and speculation continues that the diamond smuggling is funding President Mugabe's allies and his Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front party.


By Brian Latham

February 4, 2011

Zimbabwe must demonstrate how it will prevent diamonds from its Marange fields being smuggled over the border to Mozambique if it wants to freely export gems from the deposit, which it mines minister says is the biggest diamond discovery in a century.

Zimbabwe must "provide a credible anti-smuggling enforcement plan" that includes cooperation with the government of neighboring Mozambique, the Kimberley Process said in documents sent to Zimbabwe on Dec. 29 that were obtained by Bloomberg.

The documents were confirmed as genuine by Mathieu Yamba, current chairman of the Kimberley Process, in an interview today from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Zimbabwe has yet to respond, he said, declining to comment further. The Kimberley Process is an organization that includes governments and diamond industry companies and is designed to reduce the trade of diamonds used to finance conflicts.

The deposits in eastern Zimbabwe could generate $2 billion in annual export income, the state-controlled Herald newspaper cited mines minister Obert Mpofu as saying in October. Zimbabwe, a member of the Process, isn't certified to exports the gems from the field because it has not met a standard to demonstrate that proceeds from sales aren't financing conflict.

Mpofu declined to comment when called today.

Zimbabwe's government must also give the Kimberley Process and the Kimberley Process Local Focal Point, a coalition of Zimbabwean civil rights organizations, "unfettered access" to the Marange diamond fields, the Process states in the documents.

Diamond Smuggling

"If abuses or smuggling continue, then we would expect the self-cessation mechanism in the KP agreement to come into play and for Zimbabwe to immediately stop exports," Human Rights Watch Africa Researcher Tiseke Kasambala said in an e-mailed statement from Johannesburg today.

Human Rights Watch, based in New York, and Partnership Africa Canada have said that proceeds from diamond smuggling are helping to enrich allies of President Robert Mugabe and could finance a violent election campaign by his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party. Zanu-PF has denied benefiting from gem smuggling.

Any violation reported to the Kimberley Process Work Monitoring Group must put a stop to the export of diamonds within seven days, the Process states in the documents.

Zimbabwe must also provide a clear time line during which control of the Marange fields will be handed from the military to the police, the agreement says.

The World Diamond Council yesterday said in a statement that Zimbabwe will be able to export gems from Marange, which is also known as Chiadzwa, if an agreement can be reached with the Kimberley Process. Talks between Yamba and Zimbabwe are currently being held, the council said, giving no further details.


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