Zimbabwe has been making the news in the last few months concerning its large diamond mining industry. The Marange Diamond Fields are an area of diamond production in the eastern part of the country. Experts estimate that the diamond deposits under Marange could be the largest found in over a century! The mine is currently the largest diamond producing mine in the world as well, with an expected 16.9 million carats to be produced in 2013. The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) operates on behalf of the Zimbabwean government and is thought by many to be controlled by ZANU-PF. The ZMDC owns five diamond fields in Marange that yielded $685 million in diamond exports in 2012. Millions of dollars of diamond revenue has disappeared from official records in the last years though. This has caused a widespread suspicion of ZMDC operations internationally. Marange has further received a lot of negative attention in the press for allegations of forced labor and governmental corruption surrounding the diamonds’ sale. In an attempt to take a stand against the widespread corruption of the Mugabe administration, much of the western world resultantly placed sanctions on ZANU-PF party members and the Zimbabwean diamond industry.
The United States and European Union notably placed ZMDC on their list of sanctioned entities many years ago, but this past fall there was talk that the EU was considering lifting such sanctions. Belgium was one of the largest proponents of lifting the sanctions, as they are one of the world’s largest diamond trading hubs that has been struggling in recent years to stay afloat. EU officials agreed to take ZMDC off its sanctioned list as a way to incentivize a fair election process in Zimbabwe this past fall. Despite the fact that the election in August was still considered by many to be deeply flawed, the push to delist ZMDC from EU sanctions still went forward. Recent reports say that there will be the first official sale of Zimbabwean diamonds to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre as soon as December 20, 2013. In class we have discussed how a wealth of natural resources in many African countries results in severe mismanagement issues that can ultimately lead to serious conflicts and exacerbate state failure. Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth in their diamond fields is certainly of a major concern to many in the international community for such issues to arise. I would hope that with the lifting of the EU sanctions on ZMDC that the diamond industry and trade will continue to be watched carefully by the world in case troubles do arise.