A diamond trade watchdog accuses president Robert Mugabe's associates of stealing two billion dollars from diamond sales from the country's eastern diamond fields.
In its report released on Monday, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) said senior government officials in Zimbabwe have been plundering more than two billion dollar worth of diamonds from the country's eastern diamond fields.
The report which coincides with the country's government conference on the diamond trade which is set to win international respectability for its diamond trade, says vast earnings from Zimbabwe's eastern Marange fields, have not reached the state treasury.
PAC is a member of the Kimberley Process, the world body that regulates the diamond trade.
Goodwills Masimirembwa, head of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) dismissed the report and branded it as a strategy used by the west to ruin Zimbabwe's reputation. He insteady called on the west to lift sanctions.
"We want the sanctions removed yesterday so that we receive optimum value for the value of our diamonds for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Western countries imposed smart sanctions on President Mugabe and his senior Zanu PF officials following reports of human rights abuses during the election in 2002. Such abuses were also reported in the diamond fields forcing Kimberly Process watchdogs to suspend Zimbabwe's diamonds from the market.
Unlocking diamond trade
The international ban on Zimbabwe selling diamonds from several of its Marange diamond fields was lifted in November 2011. However this is not the reason enough for Brussels to lift the sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his officials, remarked Aldo Dell'Aricia, the European Union's Ambassador to Zimbabwe.
"Human rights environment is not covered by the Kimberley Process, so a country can be compliant in terms of the Kimberley Process but still has veto to face some problems with the issues related to human rights environment," said Dell'Aricia.
Nevertheless, he promised that the European Union will continue to work with Zimbabwean government in ensuring that the re-engagement is successful.
Although Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields are one of the world's biggest diamond deposits, the country has not been able to get out of its economic quagmire.
Some people blame corruption, while Mugabe's government blames sanctions and poor relations with the EU which he says is affecting the price of its diamonds in Europe and on the world market.
The two day conference started on november 12, was set to unlock Zimbabwe's diamond potential. The conference has drawn together international dealers and officials from all diamond mining countries across the globe.
Shamiso Mtisi heads Zimbabwe's Civil Society Coalition for the Kimberly process. He believes the emphasis of the conference should focus on human rights issues and how the diamond money is being used in the country.
“If this conference does not address that for me it does not make sense.”