THE United States says the abstention from a vote at last week’s Kimberley Process plenary session in Kinshasa that allowed Zimbabwe to export diamonds mined in Marange fields was important in allowing progress within the Kimberley Process.
The country says it was a necessary compromise.
Western nations – led by the US, Canada and Australia – wanted to bar the Chiadzwa gems from the international market.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland (pictured above), however, said the agreement on Zimbabwe’s rough diamonds “could have been stronger”.
However, Nuland noted, the US was keeping its own sanctions against Zimbabwe in place, under the 2002 Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zdera) and no US citizen would be allowed to trade in Marange diamonds.
The Zimbabwe government says the sanctions legislation is illegal as it was not mandated by the United Nations and has ruined Zimbabwe’s economy.
In March this year, the United States’ central bank and the Federal Reserve bank froze two Zimbabwean accounts belonging to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
The two accounts had about US$2 million from sales of the country’s minerals and deposited locally into a Stanbic Bank account, both account holders are under US sanctions.
Stanbic Bank operates a nostro account, maintained by an overseas bank, where bulk transfers are first sent before they reach their local recipients.
Through that arrangement, Stanbic Bank instructs its overseas bank to transfer the money to a local bank but that money first goes through the Federal Reserve.
A US government arm, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (Offac), which is used by that government to implement the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwean parastatals, is said to have recommended the freezing of the funds.
Civil society groups, who have alleged human rights abuses in Marange, slammed the KP greenlight saying the KP has “given up” on Zimbabwe.
“The Kimberley Process has effectively given up on Zimbabwe,” said Alfred Brownell, President of Green Advocates, Liberia.
“KP member governments and the diamond industry seem ready to turn their back on the interests of Zimbabwe’s citizens, the public good and the principles on which the Kimberley Process was founded.”
Meanwhile many countries including China, Russia and India have hailed the greenlight saying it helps Zimbabwe on the road to recovery.
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