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Fighting talk from Zimbabwe as KP stalemates
05/11/2010 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Stalemate ... KP monitor Abbey Chikane (left) talks to Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Mines Minister Mpofu at an auction in August
 
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ZIMBABWE sent out a defiant message on Thursday after the Kimberley Process broke off talks about the certification of Marange diamonds in Israel without an agreement.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said the country would not be held hostage by Canada, the United States and Australia – the fiercest opponents of Zimbabwe’s push to be allowed to freely sell Marange diamonds.

“These are our God-given resources and we will do with them what we feel is best for our people,” Mpofu said.

Zimbabwe says it has met all the certification standards set by the KP, a 75-nation global body responsible for ending the trade of “blood” diamonds which are often used to fund wars across Africa.

Kimberley Process chairman, Boaz Hirsch, head of foreign trade division at Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, ended the four-day meeting in Jerusalem after delegates failed to reach consensus to allow the exports from Zimbabwe.

“It’s an agreement that comes to portray the complex reality that was displayed in the review mission report,” Hirsch said. “There are a small number of countries that are still in consultation with their capitals. We had deadlines and the plenary has ended, but we do hope to reach a consensus in the coming days.”

Hirsch declined to disclose details of the agreement being considered but explained that the negotiations have focused on presenting an agreement that reflects the findings of a KP review mission.

The review mission was in Zimbabwe in August, but disputes among participants delayed publication of the final report until Friday last week, just before the plenary. Zimbabwe has 30 days to reply to the recommendations.

The report recommended that Zimbabwe’s planned sale of existing rough stockpile should depend upon progress made in the implementation of the joint working plan.

Critically, the review mission was of the opinion that the KP should favourably consider the sale. The compliance report reiterated though that the Kimberley Process monitor to Zimbabwe should inspect Marange diamonds before a legal sale can take place.

One Kimberley Process participant, who requested anonymity, noted that while the plenary failed to reach consensus, there were also no clear objections -- indicating that Zimbabwe could find a technical loophole to make the exports.



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Hirsch stressed that this is not the case though, and that the country is still under obligations set out by the Swakopmund agreement, signed in November 2009, whereby Marange diamonds would still be subject to the signature of the monitor for Marange, Abbey Chikane.

Hirsch noted that it was up to individual member countries to uphold the Kimberley Process principles should Zimbabwe begin exports before an agreement is reached.

Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents the diamond industry at the Kimberley Process, said the organisation’s position has always been “an inclusive one” rather than advocating expulsion or the possibility of allowing diamonds to penetrate the market outside the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

He declined to speculate what action the WDC would take if Zimbabwe exports begin before a decision is made.

Hirsch dismissed the possibility of another mini-summit taking place to resolve the issues, as was the case following a June stalemate on Zimbabwe out of Tel Aviv. Subsequently, a min-summit, led by Izhakoff, achieved consensus at a meeting in St Petersburg to allow two KP-monitored auctions.

“We will begin on Friday to aggressively work with those members who have not come to a decision and we remain confident that a final decision will be made soon,” Hirsch said.

But the promise of a resolution to the stand-off soon failed to tamper Zimbabwe’s anger at what it sees as political calculations by the US.

It has emerged that the legal advisor to the Mines Minister, Farai Mutamangira, was shuttling between Mpofu and the American delegation led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa affairs, Susan Page, following America's invitation to directly engage with the Zimbabwean delegation.

For a greater part of Thursday, Brad Rusin Brooks, an attorney with the U.S. State Department, was in closed door discussions with Mutamangira.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who was in Jerusalem, accused two western-funded NGOs – Global Witness and Partnership Canada – of writing “desk reports meant to please their handlers” after they claimed there was violence on a large scale in Marange.

Tomana said: “The KP review mission report presented to the plenary has certified that the Marange diamond mining operations are compliant with the minimum KPCS requirements.

“It follows, therefore, by logical inference, that our full diamond export diamond status must be restored.”
 
And Minister Mpofu said Zimbabwe would not be waiting for a green-light from anyone.
 
He told reporters: “Our compliance must entitle Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally export (diamonds).

“It is now clear that the Joint Working Plan is no longer serving the best interest of Zimbabwe. It is now evidently clear that it is being used as a tool to regulate improperly the flow of exports out of Zimbabwe.”

The Democratic Republic of the Congo  assumes the role of chairmanship from Israel on January 1, 2011. America is campaigning for the vice presidency.


 
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