Zimbabwe gets go ahead to sell Marange diamonds but….

Zimbabwe has finally obtained the go-ahead to sell its rough diamonds from Marange but the deal could be scuttled because Russia says the Kimberley Process outgoing chairman Boaz Hirsch of Israel did not follow the proper procedure.

Hirsch had asked KP members to approve the amended Jerusalem Agreement which was drafted in Brussels by January 10 but after not getting any response, he extended the deadline to January 17. This time, according to sources, he got approval from 17 KP members.

There are 47 KP members. The European Union is counted as one member but the number of countries within the KP is actually 75.

Sources said the procedure for written vote-taking is that at least one-third of the KP participants must agree and no one should oppose. This is exactly what happened.

The sources said that Zimbabwe had complained privately that it had not received the revised proposal but this is understood to have been sent through the local focal point.

There has been a dispute about who should lead the local focal point in Zimbabwe. Non-governmental organisations which have been campaigning against the admission of Zimbabwe to the KP said they elected Harare lawyer Shamiso Mtisi to head the local focal point at the Jerusalem meeting in November last year.

Mtisi was replacing Farai Maguwu who has also vehemently opposed the admission of Zimbabwe to the KP and was at one time arrested and detained for leaking secret documents to KP monitor Abbey Chikane.

Sources say once the Administrative Decision is approved, Zimbabwe will be able to export its diamonds from Marange without having to wait for the KP monitor’s approval. The decision would also free all diamonds from Marange that are being held in Dubai and Harare.

Reports, however, say Andrey Kutepov, the chairman of the KP Committee on Rules and Procedures, says the new draft should have been discussed first by the Working Group on Monitoring so any decision on the draft is illegal.

It is not clear whether Kutepov’s argument will carry the day but it could scuttle the whole deal sending the matter back to square one.

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