South African President Jacob Zuma Backs Sale of Zimbabwean Diamonds

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has shown his support for the sale of Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamonds, despite ongoing attempts by western countries to block Zimbabwean exports.

Zuma said in a written parliamentary reply to questions from the opposition apartheid era Democratic Alliance (DA) that “the requisite level of compliance had been attained for specific mines in the Marange and Chiadzwa area.”

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip had asked Zuma whether he was aware that the diamonds mined at the Chiadzwa fields were being sold outside of the trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), to fund ZANU PF.

Zuma’s answer was that 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 KP.

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

He also disputed reports by groups like Human Rights Watch who said that people had been killed and tortured by Mugabe’s security 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 and no such abuses were discovered.”

“In our capacity as the Chairperson of the Association of African Diamond Producing Countries (ADPA), South Africa also led a delegation of members of the association and visited these mines and the surrounding communities to verify for itself the level of compliance. During these visits, we were impressed as ADPA at the level of compliance with the Kimberly Process Certification System process and soon after these monitoring visits, Kimberly Process approved exports of diamonds in Zimbabwe, took place under the supervision of a Kimberly Process monitor. Such sales took place via auction in August and November 2010, respectively,” Zuma said.

South Africa has repeatedly shown its support for Zimbabwe’s diamonds to be allowed back onto international trade markets. But the diamonds remain suspended, with KP members deadlock on Zimbabwe’s tade chiefly because of western political pressure under the guise of “concerns for human rights.

Zuma’s written reply meanwhile came the day before Human Rights Watch warned that his government had a serious role to play in what it called “ongoing abuses at Chiadzwa.” The group’s Tiseke Kasambala said on Tuesday that South Africa “needs to be pressured to stop accepting these diamonds,” calling it “unfortunate” that the country was supporting the trade in “dirty diamonds.”