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Mbada gets High Court relief

By Tendai Kamhungira

State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has been ordered by the High Court to stop looting diamond ore in the Chiadzwa mining fields belonging to Grandwell Holdings (Grandwell), which owns 50 percent shareholding in Mbada Diamonds (Mbada) as concerns grow on the controversial organisation’s capacity to mine the precious stone.

Mbada was among the companies that were forced to leave the diamond-rich fields in Chiadzwa by the government early last year to pave way for the establishment of the hugely-discredited ZCDC.

However, Grandwell was granted a court order allowing Mbada’s security personnel to return to Chiadzwa and secure its equipment, diamond ore and unprocessed diamonds kept in a vault, but later filed an urgent chamber application for spoliation through its lawyer Sternford Moyo, accusing ZCDC of looting its diamond ore with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

In the application, Grandwell cited ZCDC, commissioner-general of police Augustine Chihuri and Mbada Diamonds as respondents.

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“The ore is said to being loaded without any recording or chain of command, making it impossible to ascertain what is being taken. With the core mingling of the diamond ore with that being mined by ZCDC, the fear is that it would be impossible to tell which diamonds come from which ore and that therein lies the irreparable harm.

“Mbada’s security personnel have been sterilised by these actions of ZCDC. To compound the problem, ZCDC is said to have brought onto the mining site security personnel previously hired by Mbada who know how to open the vault locks. As such, a real fear is that of the diamonds being stolen,” High Court judge Amie Tsanga noted in her judgment.

Tsanga said the duty of the court is to ensure that the rule of law is observed and acts as the guiding principle in the resolution of matters.

“Disregard of the rule of law ultimately does nothing towards fostering a climate of trust for productive investment. In view of the order granted in HC 1977/16 . . . Mbada is entitled to an interim relief . . .

“Accordingly, the provisional order is granted as follows: pending the confirmation of the final order, it is ordered that, the first and second respondents (ZCDC and police) and those acting on their behalf be and are hereby interdicted from collecting, from third respondent’s (Mbada Diamonds) concession area, diamond ore mined by the third respondent, accessing areas secured by security personnel of the third respondent or otherwise in any manner with such security arrangements in relation to the said concession area,” Tsanga said.

Caleb Mucheche appeared on behalf of ZCDC, while Happy Magadure represented Chihuri.

In March last year, High Court judge Joseph Mafusire ruled that in light of the fact that the special grants had expired it was improper for him to give an order allowing Mbada to continue mining, without first regularising its operations in terms of the law.

Mafusire said Mbada’s security officers can remain at the mining site to secure its diamonds and equipment until the finalisation of the matter.

In the judgment, he said once the special grants had been regularised, government was barred from interfering with Mbada’s mining operations in Chiadzwa.

The order comes days after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said ZCDC had dismally failed in Chiadzwa hence government has since opened talks with some former mining companies to return to the diamond fields as it has been proved that they were more productive than the hastily-convened ZCDC.

Since ZCDC came in, diamond production has dramatically gone low thereby seriously affecting government revenue targets. Daily News