Harare(New Ziana) – Mining watchdog, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) on Wednesday denied the existence of forced labour in the production of diamonds in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields.
On Monday, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued an order barring five different products imported from five countries from entering the country on the basis that they were produced using forced labour.
“CBPs issuing of these five withhold release orders shows that if we suspect a product is made using forced labour, we will take that product off US shelves,” said the department’s acting commissioner Mark Morgan.
Artisanal rough cut diamonds from the Marange fields were in the same order banned from entering the US, amid allegations that they were produced using forced labour.
Under US law, it is illegal to import goods into the country that are made wholly or in part by forced labour, which includes convict labour, indentured labour and child labour.
CNRG spokesperson Simiso Mlevu told a state online television network that there was no evidence of forced labour in the mining of diamonds in Marange.
“It will help us if they had released a comprehensive report regarding forced labour in Zimbabwe. But as things stand, we do not want to dismiss and say there is no forced labour in Marange specifically but what we are certain for sure as an organisation is that we have not come across forced labour,” said Mlevu.
The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) is a research and advocacy civil society organisation whose mandate is to promote good governance of natural resources, particularly minerals.
Mines and Mining Development deputy Minister Polite Kambamura denied the existence of forced labour in diamond mining.
“The US should be more clearer on who is involved. As government we have commercialised mining of diamonds in Marange. We have commercial companies that are into extraction, cutting and polishing of our diamonds,” he said.
“All our diamonds are sold through the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe,” said Kambamura.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said the US ban on local diamonds amounted to new sanctions.
“Apparently, invoking the repulsive prospect of alleged forced labour is a new nomenclature for seeking to bar Zimbabwe’s diamonds from the international market after previous attempts to label Zimbabwean diamonds as blood diamonds failed,” Mangwana told the state newspaper.
The US already has 56 Zimbabwean companies and 65 individuals on its sanctions list.