Zim contests $45m seizure

HARARE - There was a flurry of meetings in government this week over the $45 million diamond cash debacle in Belgium, although Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa says they “are not worried” about the reported seizure, it emerged yesterday.

This comes after Amari Platinum Holdings Limited (Amari) had won a temporary relief to freeze the Antwerp auction proceeds, in line with an international tribunal’s ruling that the unilateral cancelling of its mining venture with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation was wrong.

“We are not worried about that (as) the cash has not yet been taken and we are taking care of the challenges,” Chidhakwa said, adding the beleaguered administration was actually escalating legal action against Michael Munn’s company to retrieve the cash and which largely belongs to private Marange players.

Amid concerns that the seizure could disrupt civil service pay, the Zvimba South legislator also said the exparte order could prejudice gem contributors such as Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Corporation — all with 50-50 joint ventures with the State agency. While Chidhakwa could be facing some questions — and criticism — about the decision to “trade diamonds in a hostile juridical zone”, he defended the offshore auctions on the basis that they were actually helping to “allay fears of underhand dealings”.

Zimbabwe, which was holding its third Belgian sale after the lifting of restrictive measures on the industry in 2013, was expecting a $70 million-plus windfall from the auction.

The former Export Processing Zones Authority boss and Zanu PF minister was speaking at the launch of three mining think tanks — focussed on value addition and beneficiation, accounting and fiscal matter as well as policy — but critics say his decision to trade in a European nation given to sanctions was short-sighted.

Although government lawyers are hopeful about overturning the International Court of Arbitration’s recent ruling on the grounds of procedural flaws, the scandal and financial setback has exposed the chaotic nature of President Robert Mugabe’s handling of key resources in general.

A high level delegation of lawyers is expected to leave Harare today for Belgium to fight the seizure of the cash.

Following the cancellation of its Selous platinum concession in 2010 —  where it had invested $4,5 million-plus in exploration work — Amari approached the Paris-based international arbitrator with a $500 million damages demand, but State representatives have managed to suppress the bill to around $60 million.

Apart from the South African-based company, other mining firms to have lost key assets in recent times include African Consolidated Resources and Impala Platinum-owned Zimbabwe Platinum Mines, where the latter lost nearly

28 000 hectares of rich platinum land in the Selous-Chegutu area.

And with the out-of-sorts administration lurching from one crisis to another due to its haphazard implementation of policies, critics say the Amari case could open floodgates for similar actions.

The Harare government is staring further losses of cash, and other assets — due to a multiplicity of outstanding executable judgments against the cash-strapped regime — it is the spectre of losing millions more for Mugabe’s administration that has opened a new front for political skulduggery and squabbling in the bungling party.

Comments (4)

No Mr Reporter Zanu PF is not the bungling party, but it is the winning party

Tshotsha - 17 September 2014

Where does Pres Mugabe fit in in this story. Is he the minister of mines.

Ndugu - 17 September 2014

@ndugu asi unoputa kanjo,a mixture of dog shit and mbanje ,coz unopenga chete,can the minister do all in sundry with the president not knowing and not approving it.Zanu pf is the bungling party the act before they think,its written in stone and is never disputable .dispute it you are the opposition

Chohombori - 19 September 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.