U.S. Seeks Deal on Zimbabwean Diamonds

The US government is engaging the Kimberly Process to strike a deal that would allow Zimbabwe to export certified gems from its massive Marange diamonds fields.

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray said the engagements were part of his country’s efforts to help steer Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.

Speaking at a public lecture on the future of US-Zimbabwe relations in Bulawayo on Monday, Ray said the US was actively involved in promoting Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.

“We are working within the Kimberly Process to reach a consensus agreement to allow for Zimbabwe to export certified diamonds from Marange while ensuring that workers and local communities’ rights are respected “said Ray.

He described future relations between the two countries as “bright” but was quick to add that the path would not always be smooth.

Zimbabwe was given permission by the Kimberley Process to hold its first monitored sale of a US$1,7 billion stockpile of gems a year ago. The KP has said it won’t allow unmonitored sales of Marange diamonds and asked Zimbabwe to tighten controls to prevent smuggling in the area.

Zimbabwe, the world’s seventh largest diamond producer in 2010, is set to earn about US$334 million from the export of the gems this year according to the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation.

Ray said his country would only lift targeted sanctions when the GPA (Global Political Agreement) was fully implemented and state institutions were delinked from partisan allegiances.

“There would be no reason for the US to retain our current sanctions policy in place when all conditions are met. As Zimbabwe’s political parties implement fully the commitments that they themselves have made in the GPA and as credible elections are held and honoured, there will be no reason for the US to retain the current sanctions policy,” said Ray.

Ray said if Zimbabwe’s economy was so dependent on the 120 people and a few dozen companies under sanctions “then we should be concerned about a lot more than just sanctions”.

He said Zanu PF still had a key role to play in shaping Zimbabwe’s future, with the two MDC formations having equally important roles.

Ray emphasised that his government was not anti-Zanu PF since it recognises the achievements attained by the former liberation movement.

“The US fully believes that Zanu PF will and should continue to play an important role in Zimbabwe’s future. We do recognise the many achievements that Zanu PF has done over the decades for the good of the Zimbabwean people,” said Ray.

Ray said the US valued Zimbabwe’s coalition government and also recognised that there were progressive-minded people from all the three political parties.

“Just as we recognise that there are destabilising extremist elements in each of Zimbabwe’s political parties, we also recognise that there are progressive-minded patriots in all parties across the political divide.”