Diamond Miner Loses Another Battle To Mugabe
Small fish are out at the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe, as the government of Mugabe and Tsvangirai races to loot them (professionally) before being compelled to hand them back to Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR). Right now, the battle is still at the courts, with ACR getting a setback this last week on very shaky and legalistic grounds that ignored the laws of natural justice and even common sense.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 29 November 2009
The British-based diamond-mining company Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR) last week lost the latest round in a battle against President Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe when the High Court refused to entertain the company's application to have government evicted from the disputed Marange Diamond Fields.
The High Court, in a case handled by the same judge who is presiding over the Roy Bennett trial, ruled that an earlier victory by ACR at the High Court, confirming their ownership of claims at the Marange Diamond Fields, did not mean that the government had to leave to allow ACR to start operations. The ruling was based on the fact the original verdict granting ACR the green light to start operations at the diamond fields did not expressly order government to make way.
ACR lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, knew this and had applied for the Court to amend the original ruling to include the eviction of government from the diamond fields.
Justice Hungwe, however, in refusing to grant ACR their request, said that, in the original court case, the company had simply sought to have the courts decide on whether or not ACR owned the claims it says it does.
That the Court confirmed they owned the claims does not automatically mean that the government, who are now occupying the fields, would have to vacate.
It shows the very legalistic and rather nit-picking approach Zimbabwean courts are now well-known for. The verdict in the earlier case should have automatically meant that ACR could move back in. They could not do this because the Zimbabwe government has soldiers and armed men in civilian clothes on the premises.
It is rather like winning a court case confirming a house as belonging to you but then being told by the same court that this did not mean that the person living in it and claiming the house to be theirs should vacate the house.
But this court case and the whole Marange Diamond Fields saga is not about the law, but about politics and greed. The object of the Government in all this is to be seen to be doing things legally, even though they are essentially ignoring the orders from their own courts.
ACR would perhaps be well-advised to seek a political solution to the issue rather than a legal one, because the legal books have been cooked and will continue to be cooked!!
Meantime, government has tied ACR up in court, appealing their High Court win at the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has a 33 month backlog of cases waiting to be heard. This means that the diamond mining company will have to wait that long just for the trial to start.
Meantime, Government is slicing up the diamond fields: South African, Chinese and other shadowy investors have already been given concessions at Marange and some have started operations.
It is State-licenced looting, basically and by the time ACR is able to work its claims, significant amounts of diamonds would have been taken out of the ground and sold on the international market.