Zim diamonds blacklisted, pressure group welcomes decision

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

A top US jeweller, Blue Nile has blacklisted Zimbabwean diamonds over reports of human rights abuses in Manicaland’s Marange district.

In a statement, Blue Nile said it was committed to ensuring that the highest ethical standards were observed when sourcing Zimbabwean diamonds and jewellery.

“Because of the reported human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond district, Blue Nile will not purchase or offer diamonds from that area (Marange),” the statement said.

“As a responsible member of the diamond and jewelry industry, we are working with our suppliers to ensure our consumers receive only the finest goods procured from ethical sources.”

Blue Nile claimed it was doing this in adherence to global diamond watcher the Kimberley Process.

“If one of our suppliers was ever found to be in violation of that process, we would immediately sever that relationship,” the diamond trader said.

Local diamond and extractive industries as well as environment watchdog Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) immediately said the blacklisting was welcome.

CNRG executive director Farai Maguwu called on Zimbabwean authorities and in particular Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company owned by the State.

“We endorse the decision by Blue Nile. It is the right thing to do. The use of torture and murder as punishment to artisanal miners in Marange has been widely reported resulting in consumers raising a red flag,” Muguwu told in an interview.

Maguwu claimed in 2018 alone, more than 40 artisanal miners were killed in cold blood by ZCDC guards.

Since the discovery of diamonds in Marange in June 2006, the police and army have been accused of using brute force and live ammunition to deal with illegal diamond miners.

In a report by the human rights group following the deployment of the army in 2008 to end illicit diamond smuggling under an operation code named “Hakudzokwi” (No Return), government was accused of atrocities in which live ammunition was used indiscriminately.