The Kimberley Process Dance with Zimbabwe


Compiled by Shamiso Mtisi-Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (KP CSC Coordinator)

History of KPCS Involvement in Zimbabwe and Key events

Zimbabwe was one of the founding members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in 2002. A scheme that was established in line with several United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions to eliminate the presence of conflict diamonds from the legitimate trade of rough diamonds[1]. Conflict diamonds are defined as diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments. Hence, a certification scheme was designed to exclude conflict diamonds from the legitimate trade. This was to be based on the establishment of internal systems of control or national laws and practices which met international minimum standards in participant countries. The government of Zimbabwe attended many of the reportedly difficult and long meetings leading to the establishment of the Kimberley Process. By then the country had two operational diamond mines namely; River Ranch in Beitbridge and Murowa Diamond Mine in Zvishavane[2]. However, what attracted the attention of the Kimberley Process was the discovery of alluvial diamond deposits in 2000 and the events that followed in 2006 and the following years. The alluvial deposits were reportedly discovered by a geologist working for De Beers Limited in South Africa and the company duly registered an Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO) over the area, but abandoned the area after its lapse only for the claim to be snapped up by African Consolidated Resources (ACR) in March 2006[3].

Going by the requirements of the Kimberley Process and Zimbabwe being a participant, it was from the beginning bound by the KPCS minimum requirements. The KPCS Core Document requires participants to enact or amend appropriate national laws, policies or regulations to implement and enforce the KPCS[4]. On that basis, the Government of Zimbabwe amended its laws in 2002 to comply with the KPCS requirements.Amendments were made to the Precious Stones Trade (Amendment) Regulations[5], to domesticate and operationalize the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Zimbabwe[6]. Subsequently, the Zimbabwe Minerals Marketing Corporation (MMCZ) was designated as the exporting authority for all rough diamonds from Zimbabwe. In terms of the KPCS an exporting authority is mandated with validating Kimberley Process Certificates. In terms of Zimbabwean law and in keeping with KPCS requirements, the export or import of rough diamonds can only be permitted if the shipment is accompanied by a valid Kimberly Process Certificate[7].

The implication of the above legal reforms is that Zimbabwe was binding itself to comply with the KPCS minimum requirements. The legal reforms meant that the country would ensure that rough diamonds would be shipped or exported in line with the requirements of the KPCS and that they are not conflict diamonds.It is also important to note that the Precious Stones Trade Act (Chapter 21:06) is the principal piece of legislation and legal architecture that regulates the possession and dealing in rough diamonds and other precious stones. With these legal reforms the knot between Zimbabwe and the KPCS was tied.

Having set itself as a participant in the KPCS, Zimbabwe’s intimate and protracted dance with the scheme started after the June 2006 diamond rush in Marange. The diamond rush was encouraged by government officials who exhorted ordinary villagers to mine in Marange after the diamond mining rights (Special Grant) were awarded to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). ZMDC is a wholly state owned company. The opening of the diamond fields by government to villagers attracted a lot of people from across the country and other parts of the world. The area reportedly had more than 35 000 people mining or buying diamonds in Marange[8]. It became a magnet for illegal miners, dealers, criminals and other characters from different parts of the world including Asia and West Africa. Notable nationalities included those from Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Lebanon, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, and India. Centers of illegal trade were easily set up across the border at Villa De Manica in Mozambique, while others made the long journey to South Africa. Others found their way to other foreign lands without the required KPCS certificates. The hotels in Mutare were brimming with buyers, middlemen and other fortune seekers. The result was massive smuggling, illegal digging and trade of rough diamonds outside the Kimberley Process minimum requirements. Even members of the security forces were involved, forming smuggling rings and syndicates with diggers and buyers. The KPCS requires those involved in mining, dealing, buying, exporting and transporting diamonds to be registered and licenced. Each diamond parcel has to be accompanied by a KP Certificate. In the case of Marange the diamonds were crossing borders with the requisite KP Certificates. This was a clear breach of the KP requirements.

The response by government after the diamond rush had gotten out of control and possibly after realising they were contravening the KPCS requirements was to launch a combined police and military operation called Operation Hakudzokwi (No Return) between October-November 2008. The operation was aimed at instilling fear, shock and awe in the hearts and minds of all those who were involved in digging, illegal trade and smuggling of diamonds. The result was serious human rights abuses, including the deaths of over 200 illegal miners, massacred by ground troops on foot, horseback, as well as helicopter gunships[9]. The area was subsequently declared a protected area in terms of the Protected Areas and Places Act. Some of the rights violations included seizure of property, restrictions on freedom of movement, ban on public transport, disruption of sources of livelihoods and beatings[10]. Civil society organisations documented the abuses which included killings, rapping of women, child labour and limitations on various freedoms and rights[11] .

In response to the unfolding situation in Marange, and after a lot of delays and indecision, the Kimberley Process had to send a fact-finding mission, commonly known in KP circles as a Review Mission, to Zimbabwe from 30 June to 4 July 2009[12]. The mandate of the team was to assess concerns regarding the implementation of KPCS internal controls and related reports of violence and smuggling in Marange and to provide the KPCS with complete and objective information on all aspects of the Zimbabwean system of internal controls and compliance with KP requirements. This was to ensure that the KPCS discuss the issue at the June 2009 Intersessional meeting.  At last the KPCS took action. The Review Mission was led by a Deputy Minister of Mines from Liberia, Mr. Kpandel Fayia, himself a witness of the atrocities committed by rebel groups in Liberia who were using diamond money to finance armed conflict. For Fayia and one of the civil society representatives on the mission, Alfred Bromwell, the fact finding mission was an emotional roller-coaster. The KPCS group met with government officials, civil society and communities. They heard moving testimonies from community members of serious human rights abuses committed by state security forces. The team was shown by community members from Chiadzwa and civil society groups, both video and physical evidence of graves and bones of dead miners and dealers who had been killed by security forces. Reports indicated that due to the gravity of testimonies and the evidence of human rights violations some of the Review Mission team members were openly affected. For the team leader, the atrocities in Marange clearly reminded him of the violations that happened in Liberia during Charles Taylor’s reign.[13]The team also met civil society groups in Harare that had prepared a dossier of events in Marange.[14] The notable civil society actors at that time were the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Centre for Research and Development (CRD), Counselling Services Unit and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

The report that was produced by the Review Mission concluded that Zimbabwe was not compliant with minimum requirements due to widespread smuggling, illegal mining, failure to secure the diamond fields and failure to stop cross border trade among other reasons[15].  

During the November 2009 KPCS Plenary meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia, an export embargo on Marange diamonds was imposed based on the findings of the KP Review Mission. This means Zimbabwe was barred from exporting diamonds from Marange. This step was taken to enforce the KPCS standards. However, the KPCS and Zimbabwe subsequently developed a Joint Work Plan (JWP) aimed at enhancing compliance with KPCS minimum requirements. The following aspects were included in the JWP; immediate cessation of exports and the creation of a Supervised Export Mechanism and that all future exports were to be assessed and monitored by a KPCS appointed Monitor. Abbey Chikane from South Africa was appointed as the KP Monitor. In addition, the JWP also provided for engagement of investors, installation of security systems, phased withdrawal of the military and tightening of border security between Zimbabwe and Mozambique to curb smuggling. Zimbabwe thereafter started to implement some of the activities recommended by the KPCS in the JWP.

In order to assess progress in the implementation of the Joint Work Plan, a KPCS meeting was held in Tel Aviv, Israel in June 2010. During that meeting evidence was presented by civil society members to show that Zimbabwe had done little to comply with the Joint Work Plan.[16] Reports of human rights abuses and smuggling of diamonds by syndicates of the military, police, illegal miners and dealers continued[17]. The meeting and negotiations in Tel Aviv ended in deadlock. The reports of civil society were often in contrast to the reports of the KP Monitor, Abbey Chikane stated that the country had made significant progress in implementing the JWP recommendations, ignoring the human rights abuses and ongoing smuggling in Marange. These contrasting reports set the dispute in the KPCS on whether the reports of human rights violations that were being reported by civil society constituted a violation of the KPCS and whether the Marange diamonds were conflict diamonds. There was also a dispute between the KP Monitor and civil society after the KP Monitor had led to the arrest of one of the civil society activists, Farai Maguwu who had supplied him with evidence of human rights abuses by state security forces. By this, the KP Monitor lost the trust and confidence of civil society and its viewed him as impartial, incompetent and incapable to accurately capture the illegality in Marange. All along the Zimbabwean government was arguing that it has already complied and fulfilled the KPCS minimum requirements.

In an attempt to resolve the dispute and break the impasse as well as to encourage Zimbabwe to continue improving the implementation of the JWP, a KPCS meeting was held in St Petersburg, Russia in July 2010 which resulted in a negotiated deal that only allowed Zimbabwe to make two shipments/exports of diamonds. The two auctions of diamonds were subsequently certified by Abbey Chikane in August and September 2010. However, the St Petersburg Agreement was an important milestone for local civil society since the deal included the establishment of a Local Focal Point appointed by civil society to support the KP Monitor in assessing the implementation of the Joint Work Plan. This followed concerns that were raised by civil society about his incompetence and impartiality. The original idea was to appoint one civil society individual with technical expertise and knowledge of the issues in Marange. However, Zimbabwean civil society agreed that instead of appointing one person—who could be easily vulnerable to arrest and harassment given the sensitivity of diamond mining in Zimbabwe—a better option was to come up with a technical committee, consisting of six organisations.[18]  The group was coordinated by Shamiso Mtisi, a lawyer working with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA). He represented the LFP in all KPCS meetings.

Another Review Mission that was sent by the KPCS in August 2010 to assess progress made by Zimbabwe in implementing the JWP found that Zimbabwe had made progress in implementing some elements of the JWP. The report stated that mining companies like Mbada and Canadile (now Marange Resources) had made progress in securing their mining claims and putting in place security systems and infrastructure. However, the report most importantly noted a number of areas where progress was still required such as stopping military and illegal miner’s syndicates from illegal digging and smuggling diamonds, phased withdrawal of the military from Marange, curbing cross border trade and engagement of small scale miners among other issues.

The August 2010, Review Mission was followed by the KPCS Plenary meeting that was held in Jerusalem, Israel from the 1st -4th of November 2010. However, meeting did not produce any agreement since Zimbabwe argued that it had satisfied the minimum requirements of the KPCS and must be allowed to trade without any conditions or supervision. The dispute between Zimbabwe and the KPCS escalated. All subsequent meetings and consultations in Belgium and Dubai resulted in a deadlock since Zimbabwe was arguing that it had already complied with all requirements, while civil society and other participants were arguing that the country still has a lot of work to do in implementing the JWP. Due to the deadlock, the supervised export mechanism remained in place and ideally no exports were to be made by Zimbabwe without the authority of the KPCS.

The duplicity, deceit and treachery of the KP Monitor, Abbey Chikane came out in November 2010 during the impasse within the KPCS on Marange diamonds. Knowing that there was no agreement for further exports from Marange, Abbey Chikane unilaterally visited Zimbabwe and certified some diamond parcels from Marange without the knowledge and mandate of the KPCS. Further, during the impasse, the new Chairman of the KPCS Mr. Mathieu Yamba from the Democratic Republic of Congo unilaterally issued a notice that sought to allow Zimbabwe to export diamonds from compliant mining companies (Mbada and Canadile-now Marange Resources) in Marange. This was in March 2011. However, the decision of the KPCS Chair was rejected by other participants since it was reached without consensus and adequate consultation of other participants. It appears Zimbabwe had done a coup on the KPCS by getting the allegiance of the KP Monitor and the new Chairman of the KPCS. Many would opine that these two were sympathetic to Zimbabwe because of historical ties-for South Africa it was to protect the interest of a neighbor and also its own economic interests, while for DRC it was to pay back for Zimbabwe’s military support to the country during the civil war in the DRC. This means the KPCS was also caught up in a geopolitical context. However, the impasse on Zimbabwe continued.

However, matters came to head as governments and civil society disagreed in Kinshasa in June 2011 during the KPCS Intersessional meeting. During one of his opening speeches in Kinshasa, the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu showed disdain and contempt for the role of civil society. He was very abusive and insulted civil society coalition members. He breached one of the fundamental principles in the KPCS-which is equality based on the tripartite nature of the KPCS. Consequently, civil society walked out of the meeting in protest against the insults and failure by the KPCS to take seriously cases of human rights abuses, smuggling and weak internal controls in many parts of the world including Zimbabwe. The failure by the KPCS to respect the role of civil society also resulted in the civil society making a conscious decision to stay away from the plenary meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2011. This was the first time in the 10-year history of KP for the civil society coalition to stay away[19]. The KPCS met without one of its founding pillars-civil society and for some participants this was not normal. This decision managed to send a message to the KPCS that it should play its role of enforcing KPCS standards.

Nevertheless, the Plenary meeting concluded with the lifting of export restrictions on Mbada and Canadile (now Marange Resources). Further, a KP Monitoring team composed of Mark Van Bockstael and Abbey Chikane was mandated to monitor the situation in Marange. This means Zimbabwe continued to trade under a monitored programme. The other mining companies, Anjin and Diamond Mining Company (DMC) were to be granted the right to export in January 2012 and February 2012 respectively. The KP story continues next Friday.Till then!

[1] United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1173 (1998), 1295 (2000), 1306 (2000), and 1343 (2001) and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 (2000)

[2] Ministry of Mines and Mining Development (23 February 2012), Draft Diamond Policy Document of Zimbabwe, Presented at the Stakeholders Consultation Meeting at Pandari Lodge on 23 February 2012, Harare.

[3] Cross. E. G (23 November 2012).  Diamond Production and Sales from the Marange Fields in Eastern Zimbabwe. Paper presented to Parliament,

[4] Section IV (d) of the KPCS Core Document

[5] Statutory Instrument 282 of 2002

[6] Dhliwayo. M and Mtisi S. (2012). Towards the Development of a Diamond Act in Zimbabwe;  Analysis of the Legal and Policy Framework on Diamonds and Zimbabwe’s Compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) Minimum Requirements. Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).

[7] Section 7A (1a) of the Precious Stones Trade Regulations as amended by the Precious Stones Trade (Amendment) Regulations (SI 282 of 2002

[8] Human Rights Watch (2009) Diamonds in the Rough Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe.  

[9] Martin. A and Taylor. B (Ed) (November 2012). Reap What You Show: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields; Partnership Africa Canada.

[10] Chiadzwa Community Development Trust. (29 March 2010). Petition on Diamond Mining Activities in the Community; Submitted to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy and the Ministerial Task Force on Marange

[11] See generally Partnership Africa Canada; Diamonds and Clubs  (June 2010), the Militarised Control of Diamonds and Power in Zimbabwe and Human Rights Watch (2009) Diamonds in the Rough Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe;

[12] Personal communication with KP participants and observers who attended KP meetings where the issue of Marange was raised.

[13] AFP – (July 8, 2009)  Civilians abused at Zimbabwe diamond mines

[14] Zimbabwean Civil Society (June 2009) KP Civil Society Report to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme on Chiadzwa Diamonds; Report submitted to the KP Review Mission  

[15] Partnership Africa Canada (June 2010); Diamonds and Clubs, the Militarised Control of Diamonds and Power in Zimbabwe.

[16] See for example: Diamonds and Clubs: The Militarized Control of Diamonds and Power in Zimbabwe, ; The Return of the Blood Diamond,

[17] KPCS Civil society representatives in Zimbabwe (December 2010) Report submitted to the KPCS

[18] The LFP/KPCS Civil society representatives in Zimbabwe included the following civil society organisations monitoring the situation in Marange; NANGO, Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, Counselling Services Unit, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Centre for Research and Development and Womens Coalition.

[19] Partnership Africa Canada (June 2010), Diamonds and Clubs  the Militarised Control of Diamonds and Power in Zimbabwe, Ottawa Canada

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