VICTORIA FALLS — President Robert Mugabe says the country’s Marange diamonds must be allowed to trade freely on the international market to fully realise their contribution to the economy.
The Marange gemstones have become the country’s biggest economic driver to contribute 45% of the fiscus between January and September this year, after getting Kimberley Process (KP) certification.
Addressing Zimbabwe’s inaugural diamond conference in Victoria Falls yesterday, Mugabe said the country has been unable to trade competitively and realise full benefits from its diamonds due to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.
The US and EU are the major diamond consumers and are calling for transparency in Marange.
They have vigorously campaigned against free marketing of Zimbabwe’s diamonds, citing human rights abuses in the mining area.
“The diamonds have been marketed at depressed prices owing to a negative buyer perception resulting from these illegal sanctions,” Mugabe said.
“In this regard, may I urge the diamond industry players to call for fair play in the marketing of our diamonds from Marange.”
Speaking at the same event, former South African president Thabo Mbeki said the US and Europe were trying to misuse the KP to unjustifiably block Zimbabwe’s diamond trade.
He said for many years various political players in the world as well as significant sections of the global media had presented Zimbabwe as a “rogue state” within the region and Africa.
“This narrative was advanced to place on the global political agenda the fundamental proposition that because Zimbabwe was such a ‘rogue state’, it was perfectly legitimate to use all means, including through decisions of the UN Security Council, to overthrow the Government of Zimbabwe, thus to effect the necessary ‘regime change’ in this country,” Mbeki said.
“It was perfectly clear to the political leadership in this southern region of Africa, and indeed the masses of the people in all our countries, that the determination by some from elsewhere in the world to effect this ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe had to do with fundamentally undermining and weakening the historically and strategically important right of the peoples of Africa to self-determination.”
Earlier on, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa said sanctions were hurting companies mining in Marange and had chased away potential investors to exploit the diamond resources.
Zimbabwe is believed to account for 25% of world diamond deposits and able to double current global rough diamond output by 2015, to account for 25% in value and 30% in volume.