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Chiadzwa diamond fields besieged again

THE forceful removal of Mbada Diamonds’ security personnel in the Chiadzwa diamond mining fields has resulted in thousands of artisanal miners besieging the area while alleged theft of diamond ore by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC) escalated, the court has been told.

BY CHARLES LAITON/KENNETH NYANGANI

Mines minister Walter Chidakwa
Mines minister Walter Chidakwa
Thousands of illegal diamond miners, who were evicted from the mining concessions about a decade ago, have since returned to Chiadzwa, raising fears the government could once again be losing millions of dollars in revenue, as uncontrolled mining activities have reappeared due to lack of security.

This was revealed in an urgent chamber application filed by Mbada Diamonds’ security manager Donald Dube, who approached the High Court on Monday this week, seeking enforcement of the order granted in favour of Grandwell Holdings on February 24 this year to allow its subsidiary, Mbada Diamonds’ security personnel to be back in the area and protect the “red zone” for its interest.

“Following the forceful removal of the third respondent’s (Mbada diamonds) security personnel, artisanal miners descended on Chiadzwa.

There is uncontrolled theft of diamond ore, diamonds and other property taking place. About a thousand artisanal miners descended on Chiadzwa and; illegal activities on the same scale as were witnessed prior to the organised mining by third respondent and others (disbanded diamond companies) have returned to Chiadzwa,” Dube said in his founding affidavit.

“The first respondent (ZCDC) has intensified the collection of ore mined by the third respondent. By the time the appeal is processed, there shall be nothing to protect. It shall be impossible to determine the diamonds extracted from the third respondent’s ore.

He added: “Unless the order issued by this honourable court on February 24 can be executed upon, pending determination of the appeal, the applicant (Grandwell Holdings) and the third respondent (Mbada Diamonds) will be rendered entirely nugatory, particularly in that the harm sought to be prevented by seeking relief from this honourable court will occur and incalculable damages will be suffered by the applicant and the third respondents.”

Dube further said it was disturbing to note that the government’s company was now concentrating on removing Mbada Diamond’s ore when it actually mines in the area previously operated by Marange Resources.

“The first respondent (ZCDC) is unable to sustain meaningful mining activities against a background of rampant theft of ore, diamonds and other property. It is, indeed, in its own interest that the third respondent’s security personnel return to the red zone and ensure that there is order in the third respondent’s concession area,” he said.

Dube further said even Mines minister Walter Chidakwa acknowledged that ZCDC was not in a position to undergo meaningful mining operations, a position that was also confirmed by Parliament.

“It certainly does not have the assets necessary to effect compensation for the losses being suffered. It is a company in respect of which the Mines minister publicly admitted that it had been illegally incorporated. Its continued existence is, therefore doubtful,” Dube said.

“It’s a company facing severe operational difficulties. It has not been able to produce any significant diamonds. The 1st chief executive officer was dismissed within three months of commencement of his duties. The current executive officer is acting and has been subjected to severe criticism by a committee of Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Mutasa South legislator Irene Zindi has slammed the ZCDC for secretly addressing people in her constituency over diamonds deposits in Penhalonga without informing local leadership.

ZCDC and Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) officials on Tuesday addressed hundreds of Penhalonga residents to give update on their plans to conduct an environmental impact assessment as they suspected that the gold rich area also had diamond deposits.

Tempers flared up during the meeting as the residents protested the firm’s move claiming that they fear to be relocated just like Chiadzwa villagers.

In an interview with NewsDay Weekender yesterday, Zindi said she has already taken the matter with the Mines and Mining Development ministry.

“Any project of that nature, local leadership should be informed including traditional leadership. Up to now, I have not been informed what is happening, but I was briefed by my people in my constituency and they sent me a map through my phone of areas, where ZCDC believes there are diamonds,’’ she said.

“I engaged Mines deputy minister Fred Moyo over the matter and he professed ignorance over the visit, but I sent the map to him and he is yet to come back to me.’’

ZCDC officials who addressed residents on Tuesday refused to give interviews to journalists over the matter.

Source :

newsday

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