The United States has refuted claims being made in mainstream media that Marange Diamonds have been banned. US embassy spokesperson Stacy Lomba clarified that the Withhold Release Order announced on Tuesday did not equate to a ban.

Widespread public reporting indicates that adults and children are being coerced into diamond mining in the Marange diamond fields.

As the US law prohibits the importation of goods made with forced labour, CBP will issue a Withhold Release Order (WRO) for artisanal rough diamonds of Zimbabwe origin. WRO is not a ban on imports of artisanal rough diamonds from Zimbabwe. Rather, importers who contend that their particular diamonds were not mined with forced labour can submit evidence to CBP that supports their contention in accordance with our laws.

Stacy Lomba US Embassy Spokesperson

The “ban” sparked rage from the government

News of the “ban” had sparked rage from the government with various government officials jostling to outdo each other hurling insults and condemnation at what they called US sanctions. The Herald called it a shameless lie, that Chiadzwa diamonds were mined using forced labour.

The murky world of Chiadzwa diamonds

Even activists who have campaigned for Marange diamonds to be blacklisted were caught by the withhold release order (WRO) by US Customs by surprise. While we have heard of how corrupt bigwigs continue to selfishly exploit and sell diamonds for personal gain, this was the first time we heard of forced labour.

We have heard of alleged shootings and killings. Villagers being abused and chased away from the fields. Secret burials of the dead. Forced, slave labour, that was new and strange. Given the murky world of Marange it’s not something we can completely discount, but again we find it very strange too.