Zim forges ahead with diamond sales
Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe vowed on Tuesday that the country would go ahead with diamond sales that were banned earlier this year because of rights violations at its largest mines.
"Let there be no doubt whatsoever about our resolve to sell our diamonds for the benefit of our country and its people," Mugabe said in a speech to open a new session of parliament.
"With Zimbabwe now projected to contribute around 25% of the global diamond output, there are huge prospects for the diamond sub-sector to emerge as a major driver of the country's economic turnaround."
The diamond watchdog Kimberley Process in January halted the sale of stones from Zimbabwe's eastern Marange diamond fields after documenting gross military abuses against civilians.
The Zimbabwean government reacted by imposing a blanket ban on the export of diamonds until the Kimberley Process gave its Marange diamonds a clean bill of health.
In a report ahead of a key meeting of the diamond watchdog in Tel Aviv last month, monitor Abbey Chikane said Zimbabwe had met minimum requirements to be eligible to trade in diamonds.
But the meeting ended without consensus by members of the Kimberley Process on whether Zimbabwe should be cleared to sell diamonds from Marange.
Zimbabwe will be back on the agenda when Kimberley Process members meet in St Petersburg, Russia, this week.
"The Kimberley Process monitor's report declared that the country as having fulfilled the Kimberley Process's minimum requirements," Mugabe told members of parliament.
"However, those ill-disposed to us have not given up on the use of absurd conditionalities and other dilatory tactics in a bid to block the sale of our diamonds."
Mining is Zimbabwe's main foreign currency earner. The country's finance minister last week urged disposed Process members to clear Zimbabwe to sell its diamonds, saying the government desperately needed the income.