14 August 2011
Zimbabwe's government has declared that the European Union (EU) is "free to visit" and inspect the Marange diamond fields "anytime," according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu, as cited by the state-run Herald. The newspaper also quotes the minister as saying that the country "has nothing to hide" regarding its compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPSC), of which the EU is a member.

Mpofu's remarks follow last week's BBC reports alleging the existence of torture camps in Marange and the continuation of human rights abuses in the area, claims that the Herald says are fabricated to influence the EU from lifting the ban on Marange exports. Last month, the EU issued its own proposal to end the Marange export stalemate. To date, the proposal is still being considered among the KP chair and participants and has not yet been officially approved.

In the Herald report, Minister Mpofu warns that his government "could be forced" to stop diamond exports from Rio Tinto's Murowa mine, which operates outside of the Marange area, "as a reciprocal measure" should the export ban not be lifted.

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell' Ariccia, confirmed to the newspaper that last month, Minister Mpofu had invited him and other diplomats to visit Chiadzwa

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