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UK, US relent on Zim ‘blood diamond’ ban

 SW Radio Africa 25 April 2019

Western calls for an international ban on trading in Zimbabwe’s controversial Chiadzwa diamonds appear to have been silenced, after a reported agreement on the country’s trade future was met in Dubai last week. (500 Words) - By Alex Bell


It's understood that officials in China and India have managed to persuade the European Union (EU) and the United States to soften their stance on the export of the diamonds. The Western states had been resisting growing pressure to allow Zimbabwean exports to resume, amid ongoing human rights concerns at Chiadzwa, where its feared that at least 20 people are killed a month.


But this resistance has been put to the test, with support for Zimbabwe's diamonds steadily growing. Earlier this year, the new Chairman of the international trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), unilaterally gave Zimbabwe the green light to start exports. The DRC's Mathieu Yamba is believed to have broken KP protocol by not consulting other member countries on the decision, causing the EU and other Western states to immediately call for a boycott of Zimbabwe's stones.


Yamba has insisted that he will not review his decision until the next KP plenary session, expected later this year.


Meanwhile, the KP's monitoring group for Zimbabwe met in Dubai for a two day meeting last week, to try and get some kind of agreement on what to do about the situation. The result has been yet another draft agreement on Zimbabwe's trade future, which will set the conditions for international exports, if the Zim government accepts it. It's understood that this agreement is the result of the EU, the UK and the US all relenting on pressure to ban Zimbabwe from trade.


The new agreement has reportedly been sent to KP Chairman, Yamba, who will now hand it over to the Zim government for approval. It is not yet clear if the government will accept this agreement, or what the details of the agreement are.


But it's widely believed that the agreement is pandering to the Zimbabwean government, which has threatened to sell its diamonds without approval. Diamond rights activist, Farai Maguwu, who heads the Mutare based Centre for Research and Development, told SW Radio Africa on Monday that there has been a general 'softening' towards Zimbabwe. He explained that KP members have continued to weaken "to allow trade in (Chiadzwa) diamonds."


"The KP is basically businesses oriented and its aim is to preserve the diamond industry at all costs. It appears that everyone is getting very tired about Zimbabwe, and the KP is lowering its standards to try and appease Zimbabwe," Maguwu said.


Maguwu said the KP is risking its credibility and risking setting a "very dangerous precedent," if Zimbabwe is allowed to export diamonds "while the situation on the ground is appalling." He said the KP will have lost all relevance if it does not take human rights concerns more seriously.

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