Top officials in Zimbabwe's national unity government were to be on hand on Wednesday as witnesses to the auction of diamonds from the controversial Marange field under Kimberly Process supervision, sources said Tuesday.
The diamond auction will be conducted under the auspices of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme according to an agreement reached last month in St. Petersburg, Russia, between the government and Kimberly officials.
Vice President Joice Mujuru was to stand in for President Robert Mugabe, in China for the Shanghai Expo, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were also to attend the sale.
Preparations for the long-awaited auction of diamonds from the troubled Marange field continued Tuesday.
Kimberly Process teams visited the Marange field to verify that the country has complied with a work plan set late last year at a Kimberly Process meeting in Namibia. Kimberly teams including ministers of other African diamond producing states while the Kimberly monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, was to meet with civil society activists.
In an interview with VOA, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu refused to disclose the quantity of diamonds to be auction. But he said the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation would take 50 percent of the funds generated which would then be paid to the Zimbabwean Treasury to fund operations of the cash-strapped inclusive government.
Lawmaker Moses Mare, a member of Parliament's committee on mines, said his panel is advocating full transparency in the auction so that the Zimbabwean people are fully informed on what transpires.
The parliamentary committee has been seeking for months to inspect the Marange field, without success, being blocked at every turn by the Ministry of Mines, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other agencies.