South African diamond geezer’s credibility under spotlight

NGO Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) said action is needed to block illegal export of Zimbabwe conflict diamonds. The call came in response to an unauthorized KP certification of Zimbabwe goods and a subsequent export of $160 million worth of rough.\r\n

As first reported by IDEX Online, Kimberley Process appointed Monitor to Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane has given KP certificates to a stockpile of Zimbabwe’s goods, possibly all of it. The reasons for his actions are not clear at this point, and have caused a quick uproar in the industry. 

“This would be an unprecedented and serious breach of Kimberley Process standards," said Bernard Taylor, executive director of PAC. “The entire credibility of the KP as a mechanism to stop the trade of conflict diamonds is on the line,” he added.

According to PAC, Chikane returned to Zimbabwe on November 12 and unilaterally certified all production from the two Marange mines, millions of carats stockpiled diamonds. Chikane was not on an official mission of KP and the exports have not been approved by the international rough diamond scheme.

The diamonds, worth $160 million, have been sold to four Indian buyers. “India has some hard choices to make," said Alan Martin, PAC’s research director. “Does India want to aid and abet Zimbabwe in destroying the Kimberley Process?”

PAC calls on the Process to implement a strict enforcement regime to seize shipments of these diamonds and remove Chikane from his post.

The U.S. is currently holding discussions aimed at signing the Jerusalem Agreement, which outlines a plan to resolve and allow Zimbabwe’s diamond exports from the Marange area. All KP member countries support the agreement, except Canada and Australia. The NGOs, which are not members but are important participates of the process, are also voicing opposition to the agreement.