Fresh govt defeat in diamonds battle

THE state-run Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has been barred by the High Court from pillaging diamond ore which belongs to Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Limited, in a new setback for government’s troubled mining project.

Elias Mambo/Obey Manayiti

Mbada has been granted an interdict stopping the ZCDC — formed last year through a forced merger of Marange Resources, Gye Nyame, Diamond Mining Corporation, and Kusena — from looting its ore dumps. Anjin, Jinan and Mbada rejected the consolidation process. This comes amid reports that since the end of Mbada operations on February 22 last year, illegal panners have breached security to loot more than 150 000 tonnes of diamond ore stockpiles that were ready for processing.

ZCDC and the Zimbabwe Republic police have been defying the previous High Court order issued in February. Sources said due to poor production the ZCDC has been plundering Mbada’s ore to boost its waning fortunes. The High Court interdict, granted on Tuesday, bars the ZCDC from interfering with or taking ore belonging to Mbada.

“Pending the appeal filed by the first respondent under case number SC159/2017, the first and second respondents and those acting on their behalf be and are hereby interdicted from collecting, from third respondent’s concession area, diamond ore mined by the third respondent, accessing areas secured by the security personnel of the third respondent or otherwise interfering in any manner with such security arrangements in relation to the said concession area as per interim relief granted by this honourable court on the 24th of February 2017,” reads the court order.

“Should the first and second respondents fail to comply with paragraph 1 above and to purge their failure to comply with the interim order granted by Justice Tsanga on the 24th of February 2017 under case number 1290/17, they shall be denied audience before this honourable court and any papers filed by them shall be struck out of record.”

Investigations revealed that on the day operations were stopped, the police, accompanied by ZCDC officials as well as Mines ministry officials, swiftly moved into the Mbada concession in a dramatic move resembling a Hollywood-style script.

“The Mbada officials were forced to sit down, police seized their cellphones and communication with the outside world was cut off,” a source said.

Sources said Mines ministry officials lacked an understanding of the way processing plants should be handled.

“The dense media separation (DMS) processing plants were just shut down whilst ferrosilicon (FeSi) was still circulating in the system. This resulted in damage to major plant components from caked FeSi,” a source said.

“The main security fence surrounding the mining concession was looted by panners who invaded Chiadzwa since 22nd February 2016.”

In his affidavit, Donald Dube, Mbada’s security manager, said: “The 3rd Respondent (Mbada)’s security personnel was in possession of the concession area, mined diamond ore, diamonds and other property of the 3rd Respondent following the order of the 16th of March 2016 for almost a year.”

“It was illicitly and contemptuously disposed. The submission that spoliation relief is not applicable in such circumstances is entirely devoid of merit and unworthy of any serious consideration.”

Grandwell Holdings, a 50% Mbada shareholder, had taken ZCDC, police and Mbada to court over the issue.