Indian Government blocks Import of rough Diamonds from Zimbabwe
India's Ministry of Commerce has blocked the import of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe until a consensus on the country's diamond exports can be reached between Kimberley Process Certification Scheme members and the Zimbabwean government.
The decision comes approximately one month after Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India Limited (SRDSIL), a new rough diamond sourcing consortium that debuted at Mumbai’s Mines to Market conference, signed a $1.2 billion deal with Zimbabwe for direct imports of the country’s rough diamonds in exchange for experts from India’s diamond industry training 1,000 young Zimbabweans as diamond cutters and polishers.
India’s Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has approved the government’s decision.
The Times of India quoted GJEPC Vice-Chairman Sanjay Kothari saying that the US, UK, and Australia all still had reservations about Zimbabwe’s diamond exports. "India exports 50% of its polished diamonds to the US. Thus, we do not want to jeopardize the interest of these countries for the sake of importing diamonds from Zimbabwe."
Meanwhile Farai Maguwu, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) local focal point (LFP) nominee, has been replaced by Shamiso Mtisi. Shamiso is the wife of retired army General Francis Mtisi.
Maguwu was nominated by Zimbabwe’s civil society organisations following a decision made in St Petersburg, Russia three months ago to have a local focal point representing civil society organisations in Zimbabwe. They nominated Maguwu because he had the requisite technical KPCS expertise and a proven track record on research and monitoring of diamond related issues. The organisation he represents, the Mutare-based Centre for Research and Development, was already a member of the civil society coalition in the KPCS.
However, Maguwu stepped down as the coordinator last week, just before the KP plenary in Israel, citing personal and institutional reasons. He has had fierce run-ins with the authorities who accused him of leaking a dossier documenting rights violations in Marange in what authorities said was a bid to sabotage the issuance of Zimbabwe’s diamond trading licence by KP.
Maguwu has been severely punished for passing information to the KP Zimbabwe monitor, Abbey Chikane, and was thrown into remand custody where he languished for almost two months at the height of winter. He was later freed on bail. Top civil society sources say he was forced to quit the focal point position. Zimbabwe civil society then agreed that Mtisi should replace him.
"We would like to make clarifications regarding the current position and hence the Zimbabwe Civil Society KP LFP has issued two public notices in this regard," said Machinda Marongwe, director of Programmes at the National Association of NGOs. Mtisi is a lawyer by profession and a representative of the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA).
Prior to taking up his new post, he was in the Zimbabwe Civil Society KP LFP technical committee, and his nomination was okayed by the meeting in Israel. Government had vigorously opposed Maguwu’s nomination, and even attempted to forcefully install Goodson Nguni as focal point person, with Chris Mutangadura, Chief Law Officer in the Attorney General’s office, as his deputy.
But civil society groups rejected this saying Mutangadura was a government employee and as such could not be referred to as a member of civil society, they reasoned in rejecting Nguni’s NGO. The attempt to railroad Nguni into the post betrayed the corrupt intentions of government and Zanu (PF) officials’ attempt to monitor themselves, contrary to the spirit of the monitoring intentions of the KPCS, Marongwe said.
"The government needs to be continuously monitored by independent organisations and individuals to ensure that proceeds from the Marange diamonds are accounted for and not used to either fuel political violence or enrich a select few at the expense of the poor majority," Marongwe said, adding that civil society had full confidence in Mtisi.