RAPAPORT… Kimberley Process (KP) chairman Bernard Esau stressed that no decision has been made yet regarding Zimbabwe’s participation in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). Esau refuted previous media reports claiming that the KP had already made a decision not to suspend Zimbabwe from the scheme.
Esau explained that his recent visit to Zimbabwe was not a review visit but a bilateral visit “for informative purposes only.” A KP team conducted a review mission to the country between June 30 and July 4 and subsequently provided the KP and Zimbabwe with an interim update in July, but has yet to publish its final report, the chairman reported.
“Any decisions by the Kimberley Process as to Zimbabwe’s membership will be taken in light of that final report on which Zimbabwe will have an opportunity to comment and in compliance with the agreed Kimberley Process rules and procedures,” the statement read. “No final decision has yet been taken. The chair has not made any unilateral decision on Zimbabwe and there was no intention to preempt any Kimberley Process.”
The statement comes two weeks after media reports cited Esau as saying that Zimbabwe will not face suspension. In August, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, as well as the diamond industry’s representative at the process, the World Diamond Council, intensified calls for the KP to ban Zimbabwe from the scheme over alleged human rights violations and diamond smuggling from the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has reportedly argued that suspending its membership would have a dramatic impact on the recovery of its frail economy. According to Kimberley Process statistics, the country produced 797,198.10 carats of rough diamonds valued at $43.8 million in 2008. Zimbabwe’s three main mines include the state-owned Marange alluvial fields, Rio Tinto’s 78-percent-owned Murowa mine and the River Ranch mine.