Under pressure from Parliament, Mines ministry Permanent Secretary Thankful Musukutwa on Tuesday appeared before Parliament's Committee on Mines in a closed-door session to answer questions about official joint ventures with private firms developing the controversial Marange diamond field.
The Mines Ministry and the two companies – Mbada Holdings and Canadile Mining – had previously refused to testify, pointing to ongoing litigation over the rights to develop the rich alluvial diamond deposits.
Sources said the Office of the Attorney General advised Musukutwa to respond to the committee. They said he was still wary of appearing before the committee when he arrived at Parliament on Tuesday, but the clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, told him that he could be arrested if he continued to spurn the committee.
Musukutwa agreed to take questions, but in camera, as VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported.
Mines Committee member Moses Mare told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that although Musukutwa testified today behind closed doors, his committee will not be deterred from addressing all of the issues of concern in connection with the Marange field.
But Human Rights Watch Senior Research Dewa Mavhinga said the panel's work will be compromised now that its hearings have moved behind closed doors.