HARARE - High Court judge Justice Joseph Mafusire has shellacked Mines minister Walter Chidakwa, ruling that he wilfully defied a court order earlier this week that Mbada Diamonds be allowed to return to its Chiadzwa mining operations.
The ruling was made after the South African-owned 50 percent shareholder in Mbada — Grandwell Holdings — approached the High Court challenging Chidakwa’s earlier move to expropriate all mining claims in Chiadzwa, as well as the minister’s later defiance of the court’s interim order that Mbada be allowed access to its operations.
“It is declared that the order of this court on February 29, 2016 has not been complied with. The non-compliance . . . was due to the wilful and/or deliberate acts of commission or omission by the first, second, third and fourth respondents (Chidakwa, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Marange Resources and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company respectively).
“By reason of the foregoing, the first, second, third and fourth respondents forfeit their right of audiences with this court in this matter, and the corollary obligation of this court to extend its jurisdiction over their cause is hereby withdrawn until such time that they have purged their default.
“At the resumption of the matter . . . unless there is evidence of compliance with the order in question, all the documents filed by the first, second, third and fourth respondents in opposition to the applicant’s (Grandwell’s) case shall be struck off and the matter shall proceed as if in default,” Mafusire said scathingly, postponing the matter to Tuesday next week.
This was after Grandwell had again approached the court seeking Chidakwa and the government entities to be held in contempt for violating Mafusire’s February 29 order allowing the diamond firm back to the Chiadzwa site to secure its claims and equipment.
Stanford Moyo and Thabani Mpofu, who appeared on behalf of Grandwell and Mbada respectively, also successfully applied to have Chidakwa summoned to court to explain his defiance.
When he appeared before the court to give evidence, Chidakwa, who was represented by Lewis Uriri, denied being in contempt of the High Court ruling, saying police were responsible for the clearing process, not him.
However, Moyo insisted that the police were acting on his orders, considering that he was the one who issued the directive stopping mining operations in Chiadzwa.
Amid all this, a brooding China has since warned Zimbabwe to beware after President Robert Mugabe’s government ill-advisedly moved to seize all diamond mining claims in Chiadzwa last week, including those in which Chinese companies have interests.
China, which has been one of the few powers that have kept their relations with Harare warm over the past 16 years of political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe, told the Daily News earlier this week that Zimbabwe must respect property rights in the country.
“We hope that the Zimbabwean side would earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese companies and employees, according to the local laws and the ‘Agreement on the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments between China and Zimbabwe,” Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said in a terse email response to questions.
“The Chinese side is willing to enhance communication and negotiation with the Zimbabwean side, and together create a conducive environment for companies from both sides to conduct mutually-beneficial cooperation,” Ping added.
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News said although the statement was couched in diplomatic language, its message was “clear and hard-hitting” — and amounted to Zimbabwe being “put on notice” by the Asian giant.
Soon after the State’s seizure of the Marange companies, reminiscent of the disastrous land grabs of 15 years ago, chaos has ensued, with hundreds of dealers and illegal panners (makorokoza) invading the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
So bad has the situation there become, that at least 15 illegal diamond miners are feared to have died after a red zone mine shaft they were working in collapsed as they attempted to flee a police raid late on Tuesday night.
This put to shame claims by Chidakwa that chaos had not engulfed the Marange diamond fields ever since he controversially announced that the government was expropriating all the gem claims in the area.
Economic experts have also said that Zimbabwe’s much-vaunted multi-billion dollar deals with China were in jeopardy following Harare’s seizure of all the diamond mining claims in Chiadzwa.
And well-placed Zanu PF sources have told the Daily News that Chidakwa’s decision was closely linked to the ruling party’s worsening and seemingly unstoppable factional, and succession wars.