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Sanctions overshadow diamond conference


Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s inaugural diamond conference yesterday degenerated into a battle ground when delegates clashed with a US Embassy official, accusing Washington of frustrating Zimbabwe’s diamond mining industry and economic prosperity through sanctions.

Report by Mernat Mafirakurewa Acting Business Editor

Delegates openly clashed over disagreements on Western sanctions imposed on Marange diamonds.

Mike Gonzales, first secretary – political and economic chief at the United States Embassy in Harare – said although his government recognised the progress made by Zimbabwe in attaining the minimum Kimberley Process Cetification Scheme (KPCS) requirements, it was still not enough to warrant the lifting of the embargo.

“Some of the things that have come up as much appropriate as they are in your minds I appreciate that, but they are not KP issues,” Gonzales said.

“I call upon the Attorney-General of Zimbabwe (Johannes Tomana) and the security sector of Zimbabwe to honour the call that President (Robert) Mugabe has made over and over again for the past several years, that there shall be no violence or otherwise, going forward.

“If the people of Zimbabwe, the security sector of Zimbabwe, honour their own laws and the will expressed by President Mugabe, there will be no need to maintain sanctions and the new ambassador will love to be the ambassador to Zimbabwe at the time the US removed sanctions.”

His comments were, however, not well received by some of the delegates in attendance as they argued sanctions were making it diffuclt to carry out financial transactions.

Zimbabwe, according to Gonzales, would have several opportunities to argue its case in the form of completing the constitution and subjecting it to a referendum.

“The ball lies with the government of Zimbabwe to honour its laws and honour the role of its institutions as defined by its people and when that happens then sanctions can be gone,” he said.

KPCS chairperson Gillian Milovanovic was at pains to explain why the diamonds industry regulatory body was not calling for the removal of sanctions.

“You are all looking for some dramatic response to a relative dramatic physiology of questions. I am not that dramatic a person for starters.

“I appreciate that there is an enormous amount of emotion and that has been an enormous amount of emotion from day one,” she said.

“The sanctions issue is a bilateral US matter which I understand the concerns with respect to that.

“Compliance with the KP certificate is unrelated to the issue of sanctions.”

Tomana said it was ironic that Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu, who was supposed to steer the effort by Zimbabwe to comply, remained on the sanctions list.

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