Zim gems clean — diamond colleges

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Zimbabwe diamond cutting and polishing training colleges have dismissed claims by Rapaport Group, a global diamond trade watchdog, that the country was exporting “blood diamonds”.

This follows a call by Rapaport’s RapNet for the international community to boycott Zimbabwe’s diamond exports citing human rights abuses.

“Blood diamonds” means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments, as described in relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Braitwood Institute of Gemology director Benard Mutanga yesterday told NewsDay Zimbabwe should continue selling its Marange diamonds with or without Rapaport.

He accused RapNet of abusing the country by claiming the Marange diamonds proceeds were being used to fuel human rights abuses.

“Rapaport is a club of European countries headed by its chairman Martin Rapaport, who is against black empowerment,” said Mutanga.

“I live in this country and have never heard of anyone abused from diamond proceeds. Rapaport is a diamond media organisation that is supposed to educate new players in the diamond industry and inform them on the way forward rather than peddle lies about them.

“There are other diamond companies in Chiadzwa such as Anjin whose diamonds are not being regarded as ‘blood diamonds’ because no blacks are involved and the government has no interest in them,” he charged.

Marange Resources is a subsidiary of government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) which was placed on a sanctions list by the United States while Mbada Diamonds, a private company in a joint venture with the ZMDC, was recently added to the sanctions list.

Core Mining and Mineral Resources and Zimbabwe Diamond Education College director Lovemore Kurotwi echoed the same sentiments saying: “We cannot have a situation where an area with precious gems such as Chiadzwa is not protected by government.

“If the government had not put in place such measures we would probably be in a civil war right now. Therefore some organisations cannot claim human rights abuse where the government is protecting a natural resource which is supposed to benefit all.”

Strenuous efforts to get comment from Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu proved fruitless yesterday as his mobile phone went unanswered, but he is on record as saying Zimbabwe expects $2 billion annually from diamond sales.