MAJOR WORLD LEADERS - INCLUDING NELSON MANDELA - HAVE CITED THE IMPORTANCE OF DIAMONDS TO THE LIVES OF AFRICAN PEOPLE.
In 1999, Richard Holbrooke, Former US Ambassador to the United Nations said, "Conflict diamonds represent only a small percentage of global production, and we applaud De Beers' efforts to reassure its customers that the stones they buy contribute to national wealth, not destruction. The purchase of a diamond from the Jwaneng mine in Botswana, for example, makes a contribution to the national development of Botswana."
In 1999 Nelson Mandela said, "The diamond industry is vital to the Southern African economy. Rather than boycotts being instituted, it is preferable that through our own initiative the industry takes a progressive stance on human rights issues.”
In 2004, the democratically elected President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said, "We know that diamonds are a valued source of employment, foreign exchange, tax revenue, new investments and play a positive role in enhancing the overall economic well being of countries and local communities."
In 2006, Festus Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana said, "Mr. Speaker, the outstanding economic achievements I have just outlined would not have been possible without the revenue from diamonds. There can be no doubt, that diamonds have played a major part in the transformation of our country's fortunes and the lives of our citizens."
"For our people, every diamond purchase represents food on the table; better living conditions; better healthcare; potable and safe drinking water; more roads to connect our remote communities; and much more."
The mining sector, of which diamonds are a large part, accounts for 75% of Botswana's export earnings, about 50% of Government revenue and 37.5% of Gross Domestic Product. Revenue from diamonds has enabled Government to fund virtually 100% of basic education, provide virtually free health care, build the infrastructure that has supported our economic activity, and to fund 80% of the anti-retroviral drugs that have given hope to our fellow citizens living with HIV/AIDS