Army, cops vacate Zim diamond fields

Zimbabwean security forces have started withdrawing from the country’s eastern diamond fields to meet Kimberley Process reforms over human rights abuses, a report said on Thursday.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said Zimbabwe had complied with more than 90% of the requirements set by the global watchdog Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which monitors trade in conflict diamonds.

“We have done a lot since the last review by the KPCS as part of our efforts to comply with their recommendations as well as towards achieving and fulfilling compliance,” the state-run Herald quoted Mpofu as saying.

“As is evident at these fields, there are no army officers or police details,” he said during a government tour on Wednesday.

Early this month, Zimbabwe escaped a temporary Kimberley ban despite calls for the country to be suspended and the scheme’s own citation of “unacceptable and horrific violence against civilians by authorities” in Marange.

The global scheme gave Zimbabwe a June 2010 deadline to implement a work plan and address compliance to the scheme, rejecting its own recommendation made four months ago that Harare face a six-month suspension.

The withdrawal of the army and police comes at a time when the government has licensed two South African firms to operate in Chiadzwa where the fields are situated.

A representative for the investors said 200 private security guards had replaced the security officials.

“We are taking control of all areas that we have claimed but are still working with state security agents in areas where we are still exploring. But they will move as soon as we have secured those areas,” Dave Kassel was quoted as saying in the Herald.—Sapa-AFP


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