Chikane told Radio VOP on Friday that the issue lies with the outgoing KP revolving chair Israel. “Israel is the only one that can confirm that. There will be a meeting on Monday next week and that’s where Israel is expected to issue a proclamation on whether Zimbabwe should now trade in diamonds,” said Chikane.
A spokesperson for the new KP chairperson, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Yamba Mathieu Lapfa Lambang, told South African media that claim s by the Zimbabwean government that the international watchdog had sanctioned exports from the controversial Marange fields were untrue.
“No decision has been made yet,” the spokesperson said. When asked why Zimbabwe has been insisting that it now has a diamond trading licence, Chikane said he might have been overtaken by events since he is still on leave.
“I am on holiday and would not want to bother my family with the Marange issue, maybe there might be some documents that I haven’t read that might have come while I was on holiday, I will only be back at work on Monday,” he said.
Chikane told Radio VOP last month that he was confident that Zimbabwe will soon be bale to sell its diamonds freely on the international market. Zimbabwe’s is not allowed to freely trade its diamonds on the international market until it meets a Joint Work Plan (JWP) agreed by both parties at a plenary meeting held in Namibia last November. Under the JWP Zimbabwe committed to a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields and for a monitor to examine and certify that all shipments of diamonds from Marange met KP standards. Zimbabwe was granted more time to fall in line with the minimum international standards of diamond trade. But there are still ongoing reports of brutal military control of the diamond fields and smuggling.
At a special meeting in Russia in July, KP members agreed to permit Zimbabwe to export two shipments of diamonds under supervision of the body’s monitors, on condition that the body would investigate conditions in the Marange fields. The agreement also tied all future exports of diamonds to clear and measurable progress in ending smuggling and abuses, and allowed for local civil society groups to participate in monitoring progress in the fields.