Zim diamond groups added to US ‘sanctions’ list

SW Radio Africa on December 12, 2011 released the following:

“By Alex Bell

The US has added two diamond mining firms operating at Chiadzwa to its list of targeted sanctions, which remain in place against Robert Mugabe and key figures and companies of his regime.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) updated its ‘specially designated nationals list’ to include Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources, which are both joint venture groups with the State-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). The ZMDC is already on the ‘sanctions’ list, meaning legally no US company or individual is allowed to do business with it.

This update of the sanctions list follows the recent decision by the diamond trade watchdog group, the Kimberley Process (KP), to give diamond exports from Chiadzwa the green light, despite reports of human rights abuses there. There are also claims that the proceeds from diamond sales could be used to shore up the Mugabe regime, with top ZANU PF officials said to be the primary beneficiaries of the mining firms.

These concerns had originally left the KP deadlocked for more than two years over how to deal with Zimbabwe, which came under pressure to fall in line with the minimum standards of the industry. But despite these standards still not being met, the KP has since appeared to bow to pressure from Zim supporters by allowing trade to resume.

It is for this reason that international rights group Global Witness, last week pulled out of the civil society wing of the KP. The group said last Monday that the KP’s “refusal to evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny has rendered it increasingly outdated.””

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