Negotiators from the Kimberley Process reached a deal with the Zimbabwe
government that will let the country export diamonds from the Marange
region while agreeing to a strict regime of monitoring and supervision.
The deal was announced at the World Diamond Council meeting in St. Petersburg,
“I want to assure everyone that Zimbabwe means business,” said the
country’s mining minister Obert Mpofu, who unexpectedly praised his critics in
non-governmental organizations. “We will adhere, we will comply. We will
not let you down.”
Marange exports have been blocked since last November, after a KP monitoring
mission found instances of non-compliance and human rights violations. In May,
KP monitor Abbey Chikane said exports should resume, but the United States,
Canada, Australia and a coalition of human rights groups blocked an export
resumption and disputed the monitor’s report, saying it failed to present a
complete picture of the region.
The agreement was reached after two days of often heated negotiations, which
broke down several times. One hour prior to the agreement, some negotiators
believed a deal was dead. But now the mood among WDC attendees is jubilant, as
many feared Zimbabwe would leave the KP and render it meaningless.
While exports will resume, the plan calls for several review missions to visit
the region, and assess compliance with a work plan formulated last year.