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Zimbabwe Ministry of Mines Asks High Court to Reverse Itself on Diamond Rights

The latest state application to the High Court accuses African Consolidated Resources of concealing crucial information and making misrepresentations in the 2009 case that resulted in a favorable judgment for ACR

The dispute over mining rights in the Zimbabwe's Marange diamond field took a new turn this week as the Ministry of Mines returned to the High Court asking it to rescind its 2009 ruling saying African Consolidated Resources of London is the rightful owner of Marange concessions and 129,400 carats of diamonds mined before 2006.

In Mutare, meanwhile, police were still holding Center for Research and Development director Farai Maguwu but had not brought any charges against him. He surrendered on Thursday to police who had been seeking him in connection with a report he had issued saying diamonds were being smuggled abroad from Marange.

High Court Justice Charles Hungwe’s judgment validated the company’s claims in Marange. The government had rescinded a grant of those concessions in 2006 after the army seized control of the rich alluvial diamond field.

Lawyer Farai Mutamangira, representing the state, confirmed he had filed an application asking the court to reverse itself even though an appeal of that decision is pending in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ordered that the rough diamonds in question be sequestered meanwhile at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The latest state application accuses ACR of concealing crucial information and misrepresentations. Specifically, it says ACR worked through subsidiaries including Dashaloo, Possession Investments and Heavy Stuff, but maintains that those business entities were not legally registered at the time.

"It has emerged subsequent to delivery of the September (2009) judgment that the applicants fraudulently concealed material facts from the court," the application stated. "It is respectfully submitted that the judgment should be rescinded on the basis that it was fraudulently obtained."

In effect, the state is arguing that when the certificates of registration were issued to ACR subsidiaries, there was no person to whom they could be granted. ACR attorney Jonathan Samkange dismissed this as nonsensical.

Samkange told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the Ministry of Mines is desperate because it knows that the Supreme Court is not likely to reverse the High Court decision.

Mutare researcher Maguwu's lawyer, Tinoziva Bere, said his client would be spending the weekend in custody as police wait for officials from Harare to draw up the charges and a warned-and-cautioned statement.

Press reports have quoted Maguwu as saying he was set up by the Kimberly Process monitor for Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane of South Africa. Police started looking for him soon after his meeting with Chikane, who later said that the country is on course to obtaining Kimberly certification to sell diamonds from the Marange field.

The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, meanwhile, has called on the watchdog organization to suspend its arrangement to monitor mining operations in Marange, in Manicaland province. The group is condemning the state-sponsored harassment and intimidation of staff at Maguwu's Mutare research institute.

The non-governmental organization is urging the Kimberly Process to suspend monitoring "until the Zimbabwean authorities give concrete assurances that people who provide information to the KP will not be persecuted and harassed by the state security agencies for their actions," said a statement issued by the organizations represented in the NGO, including Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, and Partnership Africa Canada.

"Until this happens, and Zimbabwe complies with all Kimberley Process requirements, consumers cannot be confident of buying diamonds that are free from the taint of human rights abuses,” it said.