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Scrutiny over new Zimbabwe diamond deal

 SW Radio Africa 31 January 2019

Diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP) is facing scrutiny over a newly amended deal to allow exports from Zimbabwe’s controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields. (339 Words) - By Alex Bell

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KP members this week voted to amend an agreement proposed last November in Jerusalem and rejected by the Zimbabwean authorities. This amended agreement is being viewed as a last ditch attempt by outgoing KP chairman Boaz Hirsch to reach a consensus on certifying Chiadzwa stones before chairmanship of the KP passes to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a known ally of the Mugabe regime. Critics are concerned that this new agreement, to be enforced in the future by the DRC, doesn't make the issue of human rights a priority.

Zimbabwe was suspended from exporting its diamonds in 2009 because of human rights abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, violence and smuggling. The country's Mines Ministry insists that such abuses have stopped, and have threatened to sell the diamonds without KP approval.

Of particular concern is the amendment to a 'violence clause' that will make it harder for those who allege human rights abuses at Chiadzwa to seek a formal investigation by the KP. Under the amendment, it will now take three, rather than two member countries to endorse a call for monitoring by the KP.

At the same time, business critics say that this 'loosening' of the agreement might be prompted by the declining health of the global diamond industry, which has reportedly suffered from the ban on Chiadzwa diamonds.  A large percentage of the world's rough diamonds are mined in there and it is understood that their absence in the market has had a significant effect on business.

The KP is now waiting for Zimbabwe to approve the amended deal, which is likely as the Mines Ministry has indicated that it is already in the process of organising fresh diamond auctions.

Originally published by SW Radio Africa © www.streetnewsservice.org

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