AFRICANGLOBE – Zimbabwe will start auctioning its diamonds locally in November as Government moves to plug leakages and maximise revenue collection. This was said by Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa, in response to questions on why Government continued to auction diamonds in hostile nations following an ex-parte ruling in a Belgium court last week in favour of Amari Platinum Holdings Limited to attach diamonds worth US$45 million.
“The question is are we going to look at Belgium as a market and see whether we are prepared to continue marketing there? Our position is very clear. We have always been saying we are only preparing to come back home and we will be doing our first diamond sale in Zimbabwe in November,” Minister Chidhakwa said.
He told Parliament the events that led to Amari approaching the Belgian courts, adding a team of lawyers had been sent to argue Zimbabwe’s case in Belgium.
“Last week a company called Amari went to the Belgian High Court and secured an order to attach diamonds belonging to ZMDC. It did so on the basis of a dispute on a platinum concession that did not subsist for many reasons, including non-performance.
“That dispute was put up to the International Court of Dispute Resolution and after some time it was decided that the seat of the resolution of that dispute be Zambia and that a judge is expected to adjudicate on that dispute on the 19th of September which is Friday,” he said.
“But before that dispute had gone before the Zambian judge, Amari and partners had already gone to the Belgian High Court to attach diamonds,” Minister Chidhakwa said.
“The first thing is that ZMDC does not have diamonds in Belgium. There are no ZMDC diamonds in Belgium. There are diamonds belonging to companies in which ZMDC has got a shareholding and those companies cannot be punished for the ‘sins’ of ZMDC.”
“We have dispatched a team to Belgium and that team left yesterday. They will be looking at two issues; first the matter that has triggered this is sub judice, it is before the International Court, secondly, ZMDC does not have diamonds in Antwerp. This explains what has happened and we are confident that due process will be followed and that the outcome will be favourable to us,” he said.
The dispute dates back to 2010 when then Mines Minister Obert Mpofu cancelled Amari’s memorandum of agreement with the ZMDC.
The company argues that the cancellation was wrongful, especially after it had invested over US$4.5 million in key exploration work.
Zimbabwe tried to sell diamonds locally on a trial basis, but abandoned the idea due to lack of proper infrastructure.