Belgium has become the first European Union member to request that diamond sanctions on Zimbabwe be lifted , saying that diamond sales could bring in much needed tax revenue and increase trade.
Zimbabwe is the world’s fifth largest producer of
diamonds, but for years Western sanctions have crippled this lucrative
industry, forcing Zimbabwe to stockpile an estimated US$5-billion worth
Some of those diamonds were bought for industrial purposes by countries like India.
In 2011, the Kimberley Process - the world diamond watchdog - gave
Zimbabwe the go-ahead to sell its diamonds. However, sales are
prevented by Western sanctions.
"Everyone is saying Zimbabwe is KP compliant but I cannot move money
into Zimbabwe. If it is true, if you try to make a payment to ZMDC or
Mbada or any of these companies in US dollars through telegraphic
transfer, America will confiscate that money. That is reality, not
fiction,” said Godwills Masimirembwa, chair of Zimbabwe’s state diamond
mining firm, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
Antwerp in Belgium is the centre of the world’s diamond trade. Now the country is calling for the sanctions to be lifted.
It says after recent elections, Zimbabwe has met all the conditions the EU was demanding.
ZMDC operates at least five mines, producing an estimated eight
million carats per year and generating $8-million in export revenue.
Antwerp says it has the potential to add $400-million to this amount,
but states such as Britain and the United States say these diamonds
have helped fund human right abuses.