SOUTH AFRICA – Conflict diamonds are still a major issue in Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic and Zimbabwe, says Global Witness diamond campaigner Emily Armistead.
“In Côte d’Ivoire the (diamond) trade is currently illegal. However, for diamonds from Zimbabwe, which is certified by the Kimberly Process (KP) — an organisation that prevents conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market — the trade is ‘legitimate’,” she said.
Armistead explained that this was partly a result of the KP’s narrow definition of conflict, which covers only the sale of diamonds that support rebel groups, whereas in Zimbabwe, Global Witness believes that diamond sales are funding repressive elements of the government, including the secret police and the military.
“Global Witness departed from the KP in 2011, as we believe that the KP failed to adequately deal with the problems of conflict diamonds. In particular, its failure to deal with the harms associated with Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds brought the KP into disrepute,” explained Armistead.
She added that weak enforcement, a narrow definition of conflict and the fact that only raw stones are covered by the process all contribute to the KP’s inadequate response to problems that Zimbabwe faces.