Botswana may be caught in the crossfire of plans by the Kimberly Process to suspend Zimbabwe from the world diamond market.
Zimbabwe is likely to be banned from the world diamond market because of human rights violations and other irregularities at the country’s notorious Chiadzwa Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe’s Marange district, it emerged on Thursday.
The ban has been recommended by a Kimberley Process (KP) review mission, which visited the country in July and which has just released its final report on the state of diamond mining in Zimbabwe.
The mission has called for a temporary ban of six months or more to allow Zimbabwe time to comply with KP standards.
It also recommended that the KP undertake necessary processes to implement a self-suspension, should the country opt to suspend itself from the KP, because Harare could not be trusted to implement recommendations without supervision.
Zimonline, which carried the full text of the report on the planned ban, stated that Southern Africa’s main diamond producers, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa may find their otherwise excellent reputation undermined if they continue to be a destination for diamonds from Marange.
The report by the Kimberly Process review mission also suggested that other KP participants in the region, particularly Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, should take coordinated action to act against smuggling.
At the time of going to press, it was not clear if recommendations that Botswana should beef up its security against possible smuggling would affect plans to relocate the aggregation of De Beers diamonds from London to Gaborone.
The relocation from London to Gaborone was set back by the collapse of the diamond market amidst the global economic meltdown.
Aggregation is the process where diamonds from all De Beers mines in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Canada are matched.
The process is currently being done at the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) in London.
De Beers CEO in Botswana, Sheila Khama, told the media recently that there are possibilities that aggregation could be relocated to DTC Botswana next year, but said it depended on whether all outstanding issues have been resolved.
She said one of the requirements for a successful relocation is good security, adding that it is important to have safe channels for the physical movement of diamonds. Ms Khama also noted that a secured transfer facility is currently under construction.