Zimbabwe accuses US of ignorance after diamond exports blocked on force labour claims

ZIMBABWE accused the US of ignorance after the US Customs and Border Protection announced it had blocked rough diamond imports from the Marange fields because they were produced with forced labour, said Bloomberg News.

“It’s unfortunate that the US authorities have been misinformed or misled to believe that Zimbabwe is mining diamonds through forced labor,” Bloomberg quoted government spokesman, Nick Mangwana, as saying in a text message.

“As a government, we have a very strong revulsion towards any form of slavery or servitude. To even suggest that Zimbabwe has some form of corporate forced labor is either mischievous or simply ignorant,” he said.

Imports from Zimbabwe are not the only ones targeted by the ban, said the newswire. The US agency listed a range of products on October 1, from garments from China to gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Bloomberg News.

The business activities at Marange diamond fields have long been a source of dispute in Zimbabwe. In 2018, Zimbabwe’s mines minister, Winston Chitando, said an inquiry was necessary to explore allegations that diamonds worth $15bn had been stolen from the country’s Marange fields.

The Marange diamond fields are about 90km south of Mutare West in the eastern part of Zimbabwe. Estimates vary, but it is thought the area has yielded some 16 million carats of diamonds. In 2016, former president, the late Robert Mugabe attempted to nationalise the diamond fields.