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Kimberley Monitor Chikane Due in Zimbabwe for Further Marange Diamond Sales


Economic analyst Prosper Chitambara said that there is still not enough transparency in the way Harare is running the Marange field with relatively little public information about its joint-venture partners there

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, was expected back in Harare on Thursday to oversee a second auction of diamonds from the controversial Marange field under a deal struck by Harare and the Kimberly Process in July in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Chikane was at Harare International Airport last month to approve an initial sale of diamonds based on the agreement, which said Zimbabwe had made sufficient progress in meeting Kimberly standards in the troubled Marange field for such sales to take place - though human rights activists disagreed.

Some 900,000 carats of Marange diamonds were auctioned in that sale. The government has released different figures on its share of receipts ranging from US$30 to US$54 million.

Economic analyst Prosper Chitambara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that there is still not enough transparency in the way the government is running the Marange field. He said the failure by the government to explicitly tell the nation how much money was raised from the August diamond auction raised eyebrows in a country that needs every dollar to rebuild its battered economy.

The government set up joint ventures with South African-based Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mining to exploit the rich alluvial Marange diamond deposits after the government in 2006 rescinded a claim granted to London-listed African Consolidated Resources, still in litigation with Harare.

Many in the country hope diamond revenues from Marange will provide a shot in the arm to the economy and allow Harare to increase salaries of low-paid teachers and other civil servants.

But economists have warned that such expectations are unrealistic - and there remain many questions about the shadowy companies developing Marange and suspected diversion of gems.

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