July 20th, 2010
11:11 AM GMT
The World Diamond Council recently announced that Zimbabwe will be allowed to sell its diamonds by September after an agreement was made with the Kimberly Process, which monitors trade in the precious stones to stop the use of blood diamonds’ to fuel conflicts.
This decision comes after much wrangling because the Zimbabweans say they need to earn foreign currency from the sale of the diamonds, while the Kimberly Process was concerned about reports of human rights abuses at Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields.
The Zimbabwe army is accused of killing and torturing hundreds of illegal diggers in the Marange diamond fields in 2006, which prompted the international community to stop buying Zimbabwean diamonds.
Now the Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is one of the opposition leaders for the Movement for Democratic Change, has won a small victory by getting the green light for the sale of two batches of diamonds, which will take place under strict monitoring and regulation.
All in all, Zimbabwe says it holds a stockpile of 4 million carats of Marange diamonds, worth about $1.7 billion.
For Biti, selling just some of these will help boost the economy and offset the lack of donor aid, which has not come flooding into the country after a political agreement was made between Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the opposition MDC. Zimbabwe’s international debt is estimated at about 5.5 billion dollars.
So my question is, do you think this is a good thing? Should Zimbabwe be given a chance to sell diamonds to help earn much-needed revenue for its bankrupted state coffers? Or is this decision premature and are the abuses at the Marange diamond fields still occurring?
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