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Police join diamond rush

POLICE have joined in the intensifying scramble for the controversial Chiadzwa diamonds where companies linked to Zanu PF and state security elements are making a mint.

Information obtained this week shows that police were anxious to get involved in Chiadzwa diamond mining in conjunction with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

They want to mine diamonds through a security company called Security Self-Reliance Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd.

In a letter dated April 9 and titled Application for a diamond mining concession at Chiyadzwa: Security Self-Reliance Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd (Zimbabwe Republic Police), Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri wrote to Mines minister Obert Mpofu asking for a mining concession for the law enforcement agency in Marange.

“The above subject is pertinent. I make reference to my discussion in the office with you Honourable minister on the 21st of March 2010 concerning the above subject,” the letter says.

“Honourable minister, after scanning the environment and a thorough analysis of the opportunities available, I wish to submit the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s application for the areas in Chiyadzwa, Marange, marked on the map appended to the attached company profile document. I hope and trust that this application will meet your favourable consideration.”

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was not aware of Chuhuri’s letter and application.
Bvudzijena said: “I am not privy to the information as of now. I would have to get back to you tomorrow because the Commissioner-General is not available until tomorrow (today).”

Mpofu said he did not want to speak to the Zimbabwe Independent because the newspaper has been writing stories about him and the shady diamond mining deals in Chiadzwa.

He said: “My position not to talk to the Independent has not changed. Why do you now want to talk to me when all along you were writing stories without calling me.”

The involvement of the police — alongside other security agencies — would bring vast swathes of Chiadzwa under the control of companies whose mining contracts facilitated by government officials have not been secured in a transparent manner.

The rot associated with the Chiadzwa diamond deals has caused ructions in the mining sector and the corridors of power.

ZMDC is working with Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners (Pvt) Ltd in joint-venture partnerships hurriedly formed and given licences without going through transparent procedures last year. Mbada and Canadile signed Memorandums of Agreement in July and final agreements in October last year before they started minting.

African Consolidated Resources (ACR) plc is challenging their activities in the courts. This week the High Court said ACR’s application to block the sale of its 129 400 carats of diamonds seized by the government in 2007 was not urgent and if ACR was to suffer prejudice in the process, as it argued in its court application, it could seek compensation.

The High Court however did not give government the permission to sell the diamonds in dispute as claimed by the state media. Mbada was in January blocked from selling its diamonds which ACR says have been extracted illegally.

In February the Supreme Court ruled that the diamonds in dispute should be surrendered to the Reserve Bank for safe custody. The ruling has apparently been disregarded by the government.

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), a state-run agency which markets precious minerals, was in January ordered by the Supreme Court to release 129 400 carats belonging to ACR to the Reserve Bank for safekeeping but police seized the parcels in what lawyers say was a blatant contempt of court.

President Robert Mugabe and Mpofu supported the move.

Also in January Mbada and Canadile were ordered by the Supreme Court to cease their operations pending the finalisation of the diamond claims ownership wrangle with ACR.

ACR has been fighting in the courts to regain its claims which were seized by the government in 2006 and given to ZMDC and later to Mbada and Canadile.

By February Mbada had accumulated about two million carats of diamonds worth US$60 million. Mbada is likely to be extracting a whopping 1,5 million carats by the end of May and over 3,5 million carats by June.

Canadile amassed nearly 260 000 carats in almost two months from the rich alluvial fields. This left the two companies sitting on a cool US$70 million worth of diamonds in a few months of operation.

This information is gleaned from letters written to Mpofu by Mbada and Canadile on February 8 and 10, respectively.

However, Mbada was blocked in February from selling 300 000 carats because Zimbabwe has yet to comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) procedures.

Even MMCZ, the legal and legitimate marketing agency, was not involved in the failed unprocedural Mbada sale. ZMDC, one of the Mbada partners, was also not involved. Mbada officials claim they have a special dispensation from the Ministry of Mines to sell the diamonds on their own, something which almost certainly would be unlawful.

 

The KPSC is a process introduced by United Nations Resolution 55/56 that was designed to certify the origin of rough diamonds from sources which are free of conflict fuelled by diamond production. The process was established in 2003 to prevent “blood diamonds” — diamonds fuelling war and human rights abuses — sales in the mainstream diamond market.

Mbada is a joint venture between the (ZMDC)’s subsidiary Marange Resources (Pvt) Ltd and South Africa’s New Reclamation Group (Reclam) (Pty) Ltd’s Mauritian-registered subsidiary, Grandwell Holdings.

Canadile is a joint venture between Marange Resources and South Africa’s Core Mining and Minerals (Pvt) Ltd. Canadile also features a retired soldier, Lovemore Kurotwi. It also obtained its mining contract in a controversial way.

 

Dumisani Muleya/Chris Muronzi

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