The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has suspended the sale of all diamonds from the controversial Marange field pending resolution of a mining rights dispute between London-listed African Consolidated Resources and state entities the Mining Development Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation.
Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku added in his ruling that diamonds confiscated from ACR should be surrendered to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for safekeeping, along with diamonds extracted from the field under a joint venture between the government and two firms from South Africa and Mauritius.
Such gems would include the 300,000 carats of diamonds which Mbada Mining Private Limited, licensed to develop disputed claims, tried to bring to auction a few weeks ago without Kimberly Process scrutiny before the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai stepped in to block the proposed sale.
The Supreme Court order answered a Ministry of Mines appeal of a High Court ruling last year saying ACR was legally entitled to exploit the Marange field.
Attorney Jonathan Samkange, representing ACR, welcomed the Supreme Court order, saying it restores some confidence among Zimbabweans that the justice system is getting back on track after years of alleged political bias.
Samkange said he will soon write to the Kimberly Process to inform it of the rulings and to recommend the way forward in the Marange field.
Samkange said his clients, a diverse grouping of black and white Zimbabweans, want to sell all the diamonds exploited from Marange so far and give all the proceeds to help fund Harare's unity government government, which among other difficulties faces a civil servant strike if it cannot raise salaries.