The United States through the US Embassy in Zimbabwe issued an embargo on the sale of Zimbabwe’s rough diamond on basis that forced labour was used during the extraction.
In a Tweet, the US wrote, “US Customs & Border Protection issued a Withhold Release Order for artisanal rough-cut diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields on Oct. 1, 2019, due to evidence of forced labour. US law prohibits importation of goods made with forced labour.”
Following the US ban, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana has responded saying the news appalled the government since it amounted to new sanctions on Zimbabwe’s diamond industry.
“There is virtually nothing like this in our diamond industry. Zimbabwe is replete with a highly qualified labour force which is neither forced nor compelled at any point along the mining and processing value chain,” he said.
Mangwana revealed that the government had not received official information regarding the alleged forced labour.
Mr Mangwana said, “The Government of Zimbabwe is baffled by the decision of the United States of America to issue a so-called Withhold Release Order for rough labour.”
“This is a regrettable development because the reason the US authorities are citing, namely that Zimbabwean diamonds are being produced under forced labour, is a blatant and shameless lie that will surprise even cynics amongst us.
He further reiterated that the Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labour.
“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,” he said
The ban comes at a critical time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa is keen to mend fences with Western countries following the ugly break up caused by land seizures.
The government believes good ties will help reestablish Zimbabwe internationally and attract foreign investment hence restore the economy which collapsed under Mugabe.
Featured Image Courtesy: Verite