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Unrest in Zimbabwe diamond sector

Aug. 24, 2010 at 4:19 PM   |   Comments

HARARE, Zimbabwe, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- "Blood" diamonds in Africa have fueled conflict across the continent.

While Zimbabwean diamonds aren't considered "blood diamonds" by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, chaotic production at the country's main diamond field at Marange and consequent smuggling resulted in Zimbabwe's production being monitored by the World Diamond Council.

Despite concerns, last month the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme agreed that diamonds from the country's disputed Marange Diamond Fields could be sold on the international market after a report from the scheme's monitor a month earlier described diamonds mined from the fields as conflict-free.

The Zimbabwean government has denied reports that Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Research and Development in Zimbabwe, has been appointed coordinator of the technical team of the Local Focal Point for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, The Herald Online reported Tuesday.

Last week Zimbabwe's National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations submitted Maguwu's name to the government, saying that he was civil society's preferred local contact.

In an interview Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu stated that NANGO's promotion of Maguwu was done without governmental procedure and approval. The World Diamond Council at its meeting in Russia last month said that Zimbabwean civic bodies should come up with a Local Focal Point for the council.

Mpofu said: "The appointment of a local focal point was supposed to be done in consultation and agreement with government. I am not aware of any such consultation with government except a letter they (NANGO) wrote telling us of what they had done."

The dispute began when, on Aug. 16, NANGO wrote to Mpofu, "We are pleased to inform you that the technical committee has endorsed the nomination of Mr. Farai Maguwu, of Center for Research and Development, to coordinate the mechanism on behalf of the broader civil society operating within the auspices of NANGO."

Maguwu has been harassed by the government for his collaboration with the Kimberley Process and his efforts to investigate human rights violations in Zimbabwe's diamond fields and faces criminal charges for allegedly "publishing falsehoods against the state with the intention to cause prejudice to the security or economic interests of the Zimbabwe," in connection with activities at Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has threatened action against Maguwu and his alleged backers.

Non-governmental organizations loyal to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have refused to recognize Maguwu as the "Local Focal Point" coordinator for civil society organizations working with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Organizations rejecting Maguwu's appointment include the Indigenous Business Development Center, the Zimbabwe Indigenous Economic Empowerment Organization, the Federation of Civil Society Organization and Sangano Munhumutapa.

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