Monday, August 29, 2011

Zuma denies ignoring Mugabe's ‘blood diamonds’

President Jacob Zuma has denied suggestions that government is turning a blind eye to ‘blood diamonds’ being sold by Robert Mugabe to fund the Zanu-PF.

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip had asked Zuma whether he was aware that the diamonds mined at the Marange and Chiadzwa fields in Zimbabwe were being sold outside of the ‘Kimberley Process’ to fund Zanu-PF.

The Kimberley Process was set up by the United Nations general assembly resolution in 2003, giving rough diamonds a certificate of approval only if they come from countries in which diamond sales are not being used to fund a warring party.

Bloomberg reported two weeks ago that Zimbabwe, as the world’s seventh-largest diamond producer, would earn about R1.8 billion from exporting its diamonds this year. It quoted a 2009 Human Rights Watch which said that workers on the Marange mine were “killed and tortured” by security forces.

But Zuma said in a written parliamentary reply yesterday that the two mines had been given the right to sell their diamonds if the sales took place under the supervision of an independent monitor appointed within the Kimberly Process.

“Our position therefore is that Zimbabwe has fulfilled the known and stated Kimberly Process requirements and that sales of diamonds takes place within that context” said Zuma.

He gave the thumbs down to Human Rights Watch’s statements that some of the workers had been killed and tortured by Mugabe’s forces, saying that “the Zimbabwean government, in response to these allegations, allowed unfettered access to the Kimberly Process monitoring team in Zimbabwe and specifically in the Marange and Chiadzwa mines”.

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