The Zimbabwe high court has recently approved the sale of diamonds from an area troubled beset by human rights abuses, as Harrare moved to defy the Kimberley Process.
The selling of the Marange diamonds belonging to Consolidated Resoucres, a British-owned African Resources Process, was banned last year by the international regulator. The selling was blocked after it was found that Zimbabwe had failed to comply with human rights standards.
Harare initially stopped the sale pending authorization from local officials and the Kimberly Process. This process was set up to prevent the sale of “blood diamonds”, which are used to fund rebel movements.
But on Tuesday the Herald Newspaper reported that the high court approved the sale of 129,000 carats of diamonds of which belong to African Consolidated Resources (ACR).
Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu, restated Harare’s determination to defy the Kimberly Process, even with Zimbabwe being a member of the group. He said “We are going to benefit from our diamonds whether with the Kimberly Process or not.” He also claimed the “country’s detractors” were using the process in order to block Zimbabwe from benefiting from the sales. Mpofu said the government will comply with the high court.
He also went on say that
“This is what the country has been waiting for. These resources belong to the people of Zimbabwe. These people (Westerners) have clearly taken their sanctions agenda to another level.”
Mpofu could not say when the sale will take place but indicates that police will investigate ACR management for buying diamonds on the black market. He said the country has a stock of 300,000 carats of diamonds that were mined by two firms contracted by the Mirange government. Last year, the government entered into a joint venture with two South African firms to mine diamonds in Marange.
Mpofu also said:
“We cannot keep or store another 129,000 carats of diamonds, but we are going to ask the police to find out why a public listed company like ACR was buying diamonds from artisanal miners.”
Back in February, the supreme court ordered the two government firms to cease operations on the CR fields. The case was brought to court by ACR in an effort to win back its mining rights. Since the suspension in 2006, the government of Zimbabwe and and London-owned ACR have been in a legal dispute over the ownership of the fields.
A Kimberley Process investigator visited the country in March to determine if human rights standards were being met in the Marange diamond fields. He found that standards were not being met and Zimbabwe has given until June to fix the abuses.