Chidakwa grilled in court

HARARE - Mines minister Walter Chidakwa was yesterday grilled by lawyers in court but defended himself saying he could not be held in contempt over his actions to defy a High Court order okaying the return of Mbada Diamonds (Private) Limited (Mbada) to its Chiadzwa mining site.

Chidakwa appeared before High Court judge Joseph Mafusire after being called to respond to contempt of court allegations, after Mbada’s principals Mauritius-registered Grandwell Holdings approached the court seeking to uphold a court order that the diamond firm be reinstated.

In Grandwell’s application, Chidakwa, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), Marange Resources (Private) Limited (Mbada) and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) were cited as respondents.

Police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri was also added to the list of respondents yesterday.

Grandwell wanted Chidakwa to be held in contempt for violating Justice Mafusire’s February 29 order allowing the diamond firm back to the Chiadzwa site to secure its diamonds and equipment.

Grandwell and Mbada lawyers Stanford Moyo and Thabani Mpofu on Wednesday successfully applied to have Chidakwa summoned to court to explain his defiance.

Chidakwa, who is represented by Lewis Uriri, denied being in contempt of the High Court ruling, saying police were responsible for the clearing process, not him.

“I would never, ever disobey a court of law,” Chidakwa pleaded.

“I am a law-abiding citizen. I have said that if this court gives me an order, I will abide by the terms of the order.”

He said this after being asked by Moyo, whether it was his intention to wilfully disobey an order of the court.

Moyo insisted that the police were acting on his orders, considering that he was the one that gave a directive stopping mining operations in Chiadzwa.  Moyo said even though the mining companies’ licences had expired several months prior to his directive, no action had been taken, putting him in the spotlight as the chief instigator of the current impasse.

Chidakwa insisted that police got orders from their commanders, who he said should give the green light to Mbada employees to access the fields in terms of the directive of the court.

Asked why he had terminated the mining company’s operations in light of the contractual agreements that existed between the parties, Chidakwa said an Act of Parliament was more superior to agreements, adding that the mining firms’ title to continue operating had expired. Chidakwa said after receiving the order he spoke to relevant officials to ensure the order was abided with. Evidence was later led from Marange Resources Acting CEO Mark Mabhudhu and Mbada chief security officer Jabulani Mukoko, who detailed on the events that took place leading to the alleged contempt of court. Contrary to Chidakwa’s claims that he called Marange to comply with the order, Mabhudhu said he was still waiting for instructions from the minister.

In his closing submissions, Moyo said that the respondents had showed a classical act of defiance.

“They have not complied with the order that you gave and whatever explanation they give is unacceptable,” Moyo said.

The judge however, noted that the minister was the one who had the final word to ensure the order was complied with, based on the evidence that was proffered in court. He said it appeared the buck stopped with the minister, as the junior personnel failed to comply with the order without his directive to do so.

Mafusire, however, in the end, said he would need to go through the submissions made before making his ruling today. Sylvester Hashiti appeared on behalf of ZMDC, Marange Resources (Private) Limited and ZCDC.

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