RBZ, ministry official squabble over diamond claim

A SUBSIDIARY of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has accused an official in the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment of using government indigenisation policies to grab a diamond claim in which the central bank has an interest.

On the other hand, Wilson Svova, the Indigenisation ministry official, argued that the RBZ should have no business in diamond mining because the government had already weaned it off quasi-fiscal operations.
The case brings to the fore fears of how individuals and institutions could be abusing controversial government policies to enrich themselves.
Svova, a partner in Shuma Mining Syndicate, has claimed ownership of two mining claims where Carslone Enterprises, a subsidiary of the RBZ, is constructing a diamond processing plant at a disputed farm in the Midlands.
The processing plant and ownership of the land is already at the centre of a dispute between the RBZ and Gweru farmer Magiel Jovner. Svova’s firm has entered into a deal with Jovner, hence his insistence on staying on the land ahead of the RBZ.
The takeover prompted Carslone to petition the High Court in Bulawayo seeking an order to interdict Svova and his associates from entering Carlsone’s diamond processing plant.
Carslone director Emmanuel Shuro accused Svova of forcibly entering the processing plant after claiming that the government’s indigenisation policy empowered him to gain access into the plant.
“He cannot therefore be allowed to intrude into the area under the guise of indigenisation — which he clearly does not comprehend,” said Shuro in his court papers filed in July.
“As earlier on mentioned, the applicant (Carslone) is a subsidiary of RBZ. It is owned by the central bank of Zimbabwe. It is an indigenous company. How the indigenisation policy can be applied to the applicant therefore boggles the mind. The respondent (Svova)’s misconception of indigenisation must not be allowed to infringe upon applicant’s rights to its operations.”
Shuro charged that Svova had visited the plant on several occasions where he forced Carslone’s employees to leave their employ and join Shuma Mining Syndicate and made threats to the employees in a “manner reminiscent of medieval barbarism”.
The Carslone director said the area that Svova wanted to convert into his “playground” housed a strategic government project and was a high security area.
“Diamonds need to be protected given that they are a strategic mineral. The respondent’s conduct is an affront to these efforts. He basically has a low appreciation of all this,” Shuro said in his founding affidavit lodged with the High Court in Bulawayo.
But in defending the takeover of the mining claims at Kleimpton Farm, Svova said the RBZ had no right to continue with mining operations at the farm as it had been barred from conducting any quasi-fiscal operations.
He said Carslone was neither the owner, tenant nor tributary of the property and had no right to interdict him from accessing the processing plant. This was because the company had failed to renew its tribute agreement with Jovner, the owner of the farm, after the expiry of their partnership agreement with him on June 24.
“The Reserve Bank was instructed to refrain from its fiscal policy and it is to this effect that subsidiaries are to wind up and the Reserve Bank focuses on its core/main business.”
High Court Judge Justice Cheda has since ruled in favour of Carslone and interdicted Svova and his associates from entering the diamond processing plant.
Apart from battling with Svova, the RBZ has also been taken to court by Jovner who sought to interdict the central bank’s subsidiary from mining and processing diamonds on his farm.
Jovner took Carslone to court after a joint-venture mining deal which the two signed in 2007 turned sour. A High Court judge has since ordered Jovner and the RBZ to find an amicable solution before approaching the courts.

 

Kumbirai Mafunda

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