diamonds

The Zimbabwe government has criticized the United States for issuing a Withhold Release Order for artisanal rough cut diamonds from the Marange diamond fields in the south-east of the country on allegations that they were mined using forced labor.

The U.S. embassy in Harare said on Twitter Tuesday that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection had on Monday issued five Withhold Release Orders covering five different products imported from five countries based on information that they were produced, in whole or in part, using forced labor.

Business24

U.S. law prohibits the importation of goods made under forced labor.

Among the products issued with the order were rough diamonds from Marange, whose value was not given.

Zimbabwe government spokesperson Nick Mangwana told the Herald newspaper that the order was a continued attempt by the U.S. to suffocate Zimbabwe’s economy and was tantamount to the imposition on new sanctions on the southern African country.

He said that Zimbabwe had not officially had a report on the alleged systematic forced labor, which was illegal under the country’s laws .

“The Government of Zimbabwe is baffled by the decision of the United States of America to issue a so-called Withhold Release Order for rough diamonds emanating from Zimbabwe on the basis that they are being produced from forced labor.

“This is a regrettable development because the reason the U.S. authorities are citing, namely that Zimbabwean diamonds are being produced under forced labor, is a blatant and shameless lie that will surprise even cynics amongst us,” he said.

He said the country’s Constitution prohibited forced or compulsory labor.

“We also amended the Labor Act in 2015 to ensure that it is aligned with the Constitution. As a government we have a very strong revulsion towards any form of slavery or servitude,” said Mangwana.

Mangwana said that the latest move by the U.S. constituted “a grave and serious attack on Zimbabwe’s interests and is no less a manifestation of undeclared sanctions that have hurt the economy”.

“We will engage the U.S. authorities on this while we continue with our re-engagement efforts as part of President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa’s continuous foreign policy thrust of locating Zimbabwe within the global family of nations,” he said. Enditem

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