RAPAPORT… The Kimberley Process (KP) has appointed Abbey Chikane as its Zimbabwe monitor, the organization’s chairman, Boaz Hirsch, said in a statement released late Monday.
“Mr. Chikane, a founder chairman of the Kimberley Process, is visiting Zimbabwe these days — March 1 to March 3, 2010 — on a fact-finding mission to assess the situation and to prepare for monitoring the implementation of the joint working plan (JWP),” Hirsch said.
At its plenary in November, the KP agreed to implement a 12-step work program to bring Zimbabwe into compliance with the KP Certification Scheme (KPCS). Under the plan, Zimbabwe agreed to withhold any exports of diamonds from Marange until they were approved by the monitor.
“The KP monitor’s role is to liaise with the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, as represented by the Ministry of Mines, in order to assess implementation of the JWP and report regularly to the Kimberley Process on implementation of the work plan,” Hirsch said. “The KP monitor will also play a key role with regard to the mechanism for the supervision of exports of Marange diamonds in compliance with KP minimum requirements.”
Hirsch explained that in order for Chikane to fulfill his mission, the Zimbabwe government has committed to ensure “full and unhindered access” to all relevant diamond production and processing sites, as well as to all relevant stakeholders from mining to exports, including representatives of government, industry and civil society.
Chikane’s appointment comes amidst increased controversy at the Marange mine, including charges of corruption surrounding contracts given to two South African firms to operate the mine. Furthermore, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu reportedly said this past weekend that Zimbabwe will sell the Marange diamonds outside the KP if the organization rules that its efforts to comply with its standards are inadequate.
“If the KP is unsatisfied with our efforts and wants to be difficult, saying that we have failed to comply with their requirements…we will not lose sleep, but rather, we will just pull out and not lose anything,” Mpofu said while addressing the Bulawayo Press Club on Friday evening, according to the BBC.
“The KP does not own the diamond trade markets. Zimbabwe will pull out of the KP and sell its diamonds to those markets,” he continued.
His comments echo similar sentiments expressed by President Robert Mugabe a few weeks ago.
Chikane previously served as the chief executive officer (CEO) of South Africa’s State Diamond Trader (SDT), but stepped down after his one-year term expired in September 2008.