Chiadzwa drifting in wrong direction

HARARE - Despite the general consensus that the country did not benefit from the previous mining regime that existed in the Chiadzwa diamond fields before the formation of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), events on the ground suggest that it may not be long before we revert to the old order, which prejudiced the fiscus of billions of dollars in lost revenue.

This follows the dismissal last week of an appeal by ZCDC in the Supreme Court, barring the government-owned company from entering diamond concessions that were allocated to Mbada Diamonds years back.

Mbada was part of a select group of companies that were pushed out of the controversial diamond fields in 2016 after former president Robert Mugabe’s regime took the decision to cancel their licences.

The cancellation gave rise to a bruising court battle between ZCDC, which now has the sole mandate to extract the gems on behalf of government, and Grandwell Holdings — a major shareholder in Mbada Diamonds.

Several court orders were made in favour of Grandwell, with ZCDC appealing against each judgment made in the lower courts.

Our reading of the Supreme Court ruling is that the road has now come to an end and it is just a matter of time before Mbada Diamonds bounces back.

What we are seeing are moves taking the country back to the previous, chaotic order in the name of respecting the rule of law even though it is quite clear that the current arrangement is in the country’s best interest.

Instead of going back to the dark days when the fiscus suffered massive prejudice, we feel that the parties concerned should find ways of safeguarding ZCDC’s interests, while addressing compensatory issues for those that sought redress in the courts.

Our fear is that the rule of law could be abused to sanitise ulterior motives that benefit only a few at the expense of the majority, including communities in Marange that were now working well with ZCDC.

Government now needs to pronounce itself clearly in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, guarding against the immorality whereby a few individuals, using their connections in the establishment, were holding the whole nation at ransom.

Never again should we allow the police, army and the spy agency getting themselves involved in diamond mining, because that is not their brief.

Experiences gleaned from other countries show that the current model must be maintained because it offers better accountability and easy monitoring of diamond revenues.

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