Kimberly Process should stick to its original mandate
Harare – The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) should stick to its original mandate and attempts to re-define its role should be blocked, South African Minister of Mines Ngoako Ramathlodi has said.
There have been Western-sponsored attempts to redefine the term “conflict diamonds”, which would give them greater scope to block open trade of diamonds from Africa, particularly Zimbabwe’s gems.
The effectiveness of the KPCS has also been brought into question by organisations such as Global Witness, an NGO, which pulled out of the scheme in 2011, alleging that the scheme had failed in its purpose and does not provide markets with assurance that the diamonds are conflict free.
Africa accounts for about 65 percent of global rough diamond production.
Addressing the second Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, Ramathlodi said producers should be resolute in defending attempts to remodel the KP.
“We need to protect the KPCS from agendas that seek to sway its mandate, this requires boldness,” he said.
“Let us not forget that the original mandate of the KP was to remove blood diamonds from the market nothing more nothing less.”
Ramathlodi said attempts to hijack the mandate of the KPCS were concerning. He said instead of making attempts remodel the KP efforts should be focused on improving the diamond industry.
“In addition to stemming the illegal trade of diamonds, we must make sure that the industry contributes to development of the continent,” he said.
Industry experts also contend that questions being raised about the KPCS’s ability to execute its mandate were baseless as recent reports indicate that 99.8 percent of the diamonds produced in the world were conflict free.
The KPCS is the process established in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market.
The process was set up “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments”.
Since inception the KPCS has made tremendous strides in its goal to rid the world of conflict diamonds since inception in 2003 as by 2006, the percentage of conflict diamonds had dropped from 15 percent of the total global diamond market share to less than 1 percent.