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Zimbabwe slams 'lunatic group' for banning its diamonds

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Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

(Read caption) Zimbabwean Prime Minster Morgan Tsvangirai, center, chats to Mines and Minerals Minister, Obert Mpofu, left, and Zanu PF Chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo, right, following the granting of a Kimberley Process certificate to Zimbabwe in Harare, Aug. 11.

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Zimbabwe says it will continue selling its diamonds across the world despite renewed calls to ban the country's precious stones from the global market.

The latest such call comes from US-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network – an international network of more than 10,000 diamond buyers and suppliers – which vowed Monday to expel any member who knowingly trades gems from two Zimbabwe mines where laborers have been killed and children enslaved.

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"Rapaport Diamond Trading Network is a lunatic organisation which people and global market players should not take seriously,” Zimbabwe's Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, told the Monitor today. "We have been cleared by the Kimberley Process (KP) to sell about 900,000 carats of diamonds, but the lunatic and bogus US organization utters rubbish. You might be aware that America, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have made every effort to make Zimbabwe fail."

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Zimbabwe can easily take its business elsewhere, says Mr. Mpofu.

Zimbabwe can 'look east'

"If they mobilize other nations to ban our gems, then we will be left with no other options other than embarking on the Look East Policy, which over the past 10 years kept the country moving despie illegal sanctions," says Mpofu. "We will sell our stones to countries where they are welcome. We have countries like China, Malaysia, Russia, India, and other Asian countries where we can market our diamonds," said Mpofu.

He said the idea to sully the reputation of Zimbabwe's diamonds was part of an economic war being initiated by the West in response to the land taken from white Zimbabweans during the country's controversial land reform program.

"Let me put this on record: Zimbabwe's land program has been concluded. Any lunatic who thinks the land issue will be reversible is mentally sick," says Mpofu.

Gems to reduce poverty?

He said the government would responsibly use the diamonds to uplift people's lives both locally and regionally.

"We are going to deal with our resources responsibly. This is part of our strategy as Zimbabwe, the [southern African] region, and Africa to use our resources to eradicate poverty among our people," says Mpofu.

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The Rapaport group, which reportedly connects thousands of some of the biggest diamond suppliers and buyers around the world, has claimed that Zimbabwe diamonds are not clean, alleging gross human rights violations as well as the killing of innocent people in the diamond mining area of Marange.

However, Zimbabwe's Ministry of Mines accuses human rights groups of "peddling falsehoods" about alleged human rights abuses at Marange.