Zim Diamond Monitor Denies Authorising Illegal Sale Of Diamonds

The former South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) military intelligence operative told Radio VOP: “I will not be at liberty to comment on whether I presided over an illegal sale but I can tell you that what everything that I did was above board.”

Recent media reports suggested that Chikane authorised a secret sale of diamonds by Zimbabwe to India in a deal worth US$160 million despite continuing accusations of human rights violations and illegal practises in the extraction of the precious stones in the controversial Marange diamond fields.

This action by the South African monitor the media said came despite the failure by KP participants to agree on trade in Marange stone during a meeting in Jerusalem last month.

Zimbabwe’s is not allowed to freely trade in 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.

Chikane said a decision was made at a recent KP meeting which was held in Jerusalem, Israel but is yet to be made public.

“I am confident that Zimbabwe will soon be able to sell its diamonds. A document with the decision on whether Zimbabwe should be allowed to sell its diamonds has been prepared and is yet to be made public, I am not quite sure if the Zimbabwean government has received it,” said Chikane in a telephone interview from his Johannesburg base.

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.