Minister Chidhakwa faces contempt of court charges

Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa yesterday defended the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s decision to deny Mbada Diamonds security personnel access to their former mining sites in Chiadzwa saying access, even for him, cannot be allowed without meeting required security checks.

Charles Laiton

Chidhakwa made the remarks when he appeared before High Court judge Justice Joseph Mafusire after being called to defend contempt of court allegation following the refusal by the police to comply with a court order granted in favour of a Mauritius-registered company Grandwell Holdings, which has 50% stake in Mbada Diamonds. Government controls the other 50%

Justice Mafusire on Monday granted the order sought by the diamond mining firm to allow its security personnel onto its mining site to safeguard its property following the government’s decision to withdraw mining licences of all diamond mining firms operating in Chiadzwa.

Chidhakwa said the police had always been part of the mining fields’ security since the inception of the mining operations in Chiadzwa and that security checks were a prerequisite for anybody who entered the premises, including himself.

“I would never, never disobey a court of law. I am a law abiding citizen. I have always said if this court gives me an order, I will abide by the terms of the order,” Chidhakwa remarked after being asked by Mbada’s lawyer Sternford Moyo whether it was his intention to disobey a court order.

In the urgent chamber application, Chidhakwa, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), Marange Resources (Private) Limited and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) were cited as respondents whereas Commissioner General of Police Augustine Chihuri was also added as a respondent to the application yesterday.

As the hearing progressed Moyo, who was appearing together with Advocate Thabani Mpofu, suggested to Chidhakwa that the police were acting on his orders since he was the one who had given a directive to cease mining operations in Chiadzwa. The minister dismissed the assertions.

Chidhakwa said despite the mining companies’ licences having expired several months prior to his directive, no action had been taken against them thereby putting him in the spotlight.

The minister also dismissed averments that police got orders from their commanders to deny Mbada employees access to the fields in terms of the directive of the court order. He said he was of the view that everybody who was related to the matter had been advised of the court order.

Upon being questioned why he had withdrawn the mining companies’ licences in light of the existing contractual agreements between the parties, the minister said an Act of Parliament was more superior to the agreements, adding the said mining firms’ tenure to continue operating had expired.

Chidhakwa further told the court after receiving the court order he communicated with relevant officials in Marange so as to ensure the order was complied with.

Advocate Sylvester Hashiti appeared on behalf of ZMDC, Marange Resources (Private) Limited and ZCDC.

A ruling on the matter is expected today.

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