HARARE, April 28 Zimbabwe should not auction
diamonds from its controversial Marange fields without approval
from trade regulator Kimberly Process despite a court allowing
the government to sell the precious stones, an industry pressure
group said on Wednesday.
British-based Global Witness, which investigates and
campaigns against blood diamonds, said Zimbabwe had not yet
complied with a plan agreed with the Kimberly Process to reform
diamond mining operations at Marange and should be suspended if
it proceeded with the auction.
A High Court ruled on Tuesday that the government could sell
diamonds, dismissing a challenge by junior miner African
Consolidated Resources AFCR.L to stop Zimbabwe from auctioning
precious stones mined from its claims in Marange.
The government said in February it had mined 2 million
carats of diamonds since the start of the year through its 50-50
joint ventures with two South African companies.
"If the government goes ahead with its plan to sell diamonds
without prior approval from the Kimberly Process, it will be in
breach of its commitments and should face suspension," said Elly
Harrowell, a Global Wintess campaigner.
"What has been taking place in Marange is unconscionable and
there is no way exports should restart until the government can
prove it has taken the necessary action to end the abuses and
hold the perpetrators to account," she said in a statement.
Rights groups accuse Zimbabwe's military of widespread
atrocities in Marange in 2008 as President Robert Mugabe's
previous government moved to stop thousands of illegal miners on
the poorly secured fields in the east of the country.
Mugabe has accused Western countries of working to stop
Zimbabwe from benefiting from its mineral resources but said the
government will press with controversial plans to cede majority
stakes in foreign-owned companies, including mines, to locals.