Towards Implementation of the Washington Declaration in Zimbabwe: A Case for Formalizing Artisanal and Small Scale Diamond Mining in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is lagging behind other Kimberly Process Certification Scheme participants when it comes to bringing artisanal alluvial diamonds into legitimate chain of custody. The continued criminalization of artisanal diamond diggers in Marange is compromising Zimbabwe's internal controls - a key component of KPCS minimum standards. Since the government takeover of Marange diamond fields in November 2008, the area has been declared a no-go area to artisanal miners. However, despite the tough action taken against artisanal miners in Marange, the practice remains prevalent and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Limited access to the diamond fields has resulted in artisanal miners cutting fences in order to enter company premises, resulting in fatal clashes with the army and private security guards. This has soiled the image of Marange diamonds due to the negative perception generated by the reports of human right abuses. Whilst the scale and intensity of abuses have been drastically reduced in recent years, violence remains the only method used to deal with artisanal miners. Whilst violence has been a deterrent to many artisanal miners, it has not addressed the push factors which force people to venture into the risky business, hence a significant number say they have no choice but to continue risking their lives by entering Marange in search of diamonds. They say either way death is waiting for them. If they stay at home their families will starve to death and if they enter Marange they may still meet their fate. Whatever the motivation, artisanal diamond mining cannot be wished away or be eliminated by law. It is a phenomenon which is here to stay as long as alluvial diamonds remain a viable option for sustainable livelihoods.