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31/10/2010 00:00:00
by Business Reporter
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EMPOWERMENT lobby group, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has joined the Zimbabwe delegation to the Kimberly Process (KP) meeting in Israel as the country pushes for the removal of trade restrictions on its diamonds.

Zimbabwe is expected to hog the limelight at the KP plenary which begins in Jerusalem on Monday with western countries and some human rights organisations keen to see the organization maintain a ban on the export of diamonds extracted from Marange.

The claim human rights abuses continue in the area adding members of the country’s security services are also involved in illegal mining of diamonds which are then smuggled out of the country through Mozambique.

But AAG president Supa Mandiwanzira, who is a part of he Zimbabwe delegation that includes Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said it was time the country was left to “export (its) diamonds without external interference”.

“If Zimbabwe is not given the right to sell its diamonds unconditionally during this plenary session, we will certainly be urging the government to conduct open sales in Harare with or without KP certification.

“We have done enough to demonstrate the country’s desire to keep within the Kimberly Process but our compliance must not be taken for stupidity,” Mandiwanzira said.

The KP allowed two auctions of diamonds from Marange over the last few months after the organisation’s monitor, Abbey Chikane, certified that the country had met its conditions.

However Mandiwanzira said the country was sitting on a huge stoke-pile of gems that were mined before the certification was given and have thus not been cleared for sale.

Mandiwanzira said Zimbabwe needs to sell the diamonds and use the revenue to boost the country’s economy.

“As a country we need to reward our civil service with better salaries, equip and put drugs in our hospitals and clinics and many other things to improve the lives of our people.

“And to have a few countries conniving to deny us the right to sell our natural resources is downright evil,” he said.

Mandiwanzira chairs a consortium of locals that recently signed a deal to supply an Indian company, Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing (SRDSIL) with US$1.2 billion dollars worth of diamonds including the existing stockpile.

He said the AAG hold separate meetings during the Jerusalem plenary with organisations that have been “on the forefront of attacking Zimbabwe like Global Witness and World Diamond Council”.


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