ZIMBABWE should invite the Kimberly Process (KP) to see if the country’s diamond sector still meets the minimum requirements to mine and trade in the gems, a top civil society official has said.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) acting director Shamiso Mtisi told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy last week that Zimbabwe’s last review was done in 2012, before consolidation of the Marange mining companies.
“Because of the changes that were done after the consolidation, there is need for review. The last review visit was based on mine to mine compliance. Government should invite KP to see if it’s still meeting the KP minimum requirements,” he said.
In 2015, Zimbabwe announced that all Marange diamond producers should be amalgamated into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) to plug the leakages, amid revelations that at least $15 billion had been spirited out of the country.
KP unites administrations, civil societies and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds — “rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments” — around the world.
According to KP, a member must meet “minimum requirements” and must put in place national legislation and institutions, export, import and internal controls and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data.
Mtisi said there were grey areas where there was non-compliance through smuggling, legal framework and bank transfers, where cash purchases of rough diamonds should be done through the bank.
“In Marange, we have heard cases of syndicate diggers; we have documented those kinds of cases. We have observed those kinds of situations playing out in Marange, at the moment there is ongoing illicit activities in Marange. Diamond is coming out of Marange as well.
“So what that means is that there is inadequate security. It means there is no compliance with KP requirements in terms of security,” he said.
Mtisi said there was not enough co-operation of law enforcement agencies and customs at the border posts, as diamonds were going out of the country destined for China, India and United Arab Emirates.
He said it was not clear whether ZCDC wanted to consolidate the sector or companies.
Mtisi said ZCDC was registered as a private company when it was supposed to have been formed through an Act of Parliament in terms of best practices.
Centre for Natural Resource Governance executive director, Farai Maguwu, said the country could have lost more than $15 billion since it was selling its gems for a song through companies fronted by bogus individuals mainly from the Middle East, adding that the Zimbabwe must do a forensic audit on diamond exports.
He advocated a forensic audit on exports not income.
“Since this is involving other nations, what we need to do is to approach the United Nations ,like what the Democratic Republic of Congo did where a commission of enquiry was set up.
“I believe Zimbabwe can still do that, take a country like China, India and United Arab Emirates to the International Court of Arbitration and demand reparations for the looting of our diamonds,” he said.