kpcs certrificate.jpgThe Kimberley Process Certification System has come under the spotlight for its double standards in the handling of the Zimbabwe diamond certification issue.

Recent events have cast doubts over the effectiveness of the scheme and its integrity amid calls for an urgent reform to the entire system in order to ensure transparency in its operations.



Formed in 2003, the global diamond watchdog, Kimberley Process Certification System was envisaged to act as a non-political mechanism to prevent the use of blood diamonds that were affecting many innocent lives in diamond producing nations by stipulating that these nations should certify shipments of rough diamonds as conflict free.


The system has recently come under scrutiny with observers criticising the scheme for failure to impartially fulfill its duty and its vulnerability to manipulation by a few groups within the scheme.


The scheme’s weakness has been worsened by its unjust handling of the Zimbabwe diamond certification issue, which nearly led to the collapse of the system as most countries supported the certification of Zimbabwe’s diamonds against the wishes of a powerful group in the organisation.


Most participants within the scheme have expressed dissatisfaction at the rare and unprecedented guidelines given to Zimbabwe towards its certification, with observers concluding that such efforts were meant to perpetuate the suffering of the country’s populace by keeping Zimbabwe’s  diamonds out of the market as part of a wider move to enforce sanctions on Zimbabwe.


diamonds 20.10.jpg“What we have been forced to go through as a country has never been witnessed before in the history of the Kimberley Process, yet we have fully complied with the requirements of the Scheme,” said Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu.


Speaking during last week’s World Diamond Council 7th Annual  Meeting in Russia, Diamond Commissioner for Namibia, Mr. Kennedy Hamutenga called for increased representation of African countries at decision-making levels, given the fact that the continent is home to most of the diamond producing countries.


He said: “We have been sidelined for too long at the decision-making level and we feel as producers we should have a greater say on how the Kimberley Process should move.”


Despite Zimbabwe having the support of the majority of the participants, efforts were made to delay the certification on the grounds that there was no consensus.


Observers say the current decision-making process of absolute consensus should be amended to allow the body to vote more decisively, while still maintaining the greatest degree of harmony among participants.


The World Diamond Council on the other hand believes a two-thirds or 75% rule should be adopted.


Local social commentator, Mr. Andy Mhlanga who criticized the KP decision-making system, said non-governmental organizations and buyers should not be at the decision-making level but rather should participate as observers. 


“We should see a change on the decision making system by restricting decision-making to key stakeholders, who in this case are producers,” he said.


While KP Chair, Mr. Boaz Hirsch attributed the challenges in resolving the Zimbabwe certification to the complexity and uniqueness of the issue, observers feel regulations should be applied equally to all participants.


With the annual KP Plenary set for November, expectations are that the diamond watchdog will come up with more comprehensive strategies to restore its credibility and enhance its operations which currently are in dire need of reform.