Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Government wilfully defied a court order allowing Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Limited back at the diamond mining site in Chiadzwa to secure its gems and equipment, the High Court ruled yesterday.
The Maritius-registered Grandwell Holdings, which has a 50 percent controlling stake in Mbada, obtained the order against Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), Marange Resources (Private) Limited, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) but they refused to comply with the order.
However, ruling on the preliminary point raised by lawyers Mr Sternford Moyo and an Advocate acting for Grandwell Holdings and Mbada respectively, Justice Joseph Martin Mafusire, said the order of “this court on February 29, 2016 has not been complied with”.
Grandwell Holdings had in its preliminary point requested the court not to entertain the minister on the basis that he was in contempt of court by failing to comply with the order granted early this week.
Justice Mafusire noted in his ruling that the non-compliance was due to the wilful and deliberate acts of commission or ommission by Minister Chidhakwa, ZMDC, Marange Resources (Private) Limited and ZCDC, hence they could not be given audience until they have purged themselves.
“By reason of the foregoing, the respondents forfeit their right of audience with this court in this matter, and the corollary obligation of this court to extend its jurisdiction over their cause is hereby withdrawn until such time that they have purged their default,” said Justice Mafusire.
The judge deferred the hearing of argument on the merit to Tuesday or such other date as the matter might resume, but extended the operation of his order to such time the judgment would be pronounced. Justice Mafusire pointed out that Minister Chidhakwa and his co-respondents would only be given audience if they comply with the order.
“At the resumption of the matter as aforesaid, unless there is evidence of compliance with the order in question, all the documents filed by the respondents in opposition to the applicant’s case shall be struck off and the matter shall proceed as in default,” he said.
Grandwell Holdings went to court contesting the Government’s decision to eject Mbada out of Chiadzwa. It listed Minister Chidakwa, ZMDC, Marange Resources (Private) Limited, ZCDC and Mbada as respondents. During the hearing of the preliminary arguments, Mr Moyo and Adv Mpofu argued that Minister Chidakwa was in contempt of court by failing to comply with the February 29 court order.
They argued that lack of respect of rule of law was a legitimate basis upon which the court could refuse to hear the respondents, because they were undermining the authority of the court.
But Adv Lewis Uriri and Adv Sylvester Hashiti, who appeared on behalf of Chidakwa, ZMDC, Marange Resources (Private) Limited, ZCDC respectively, argued that the allegations of contempt were malicious.
Adv Uriri said there were security checks that needed to be conducted before Mbada security officials were allowed back into the mining site.
Mbada officials, he argued, refused to comply with the security checks on the basis that they had a court order.
However, Mr Moyo counter-argued that there was no need for further security checks to be conducted, since the security officers, who had been working at the same site had already undergone the same process before.
But Justice Mafusire said there was need for evidence to be led on why the order was not complied with. This, resulted in Minister Chidhakwa and two other witnesses being called to testify on the prevailing situation on the ground.
The judge said the integrity of the courts should not be compromised and if the order was not obeyed, a red flag had been raised in front of a bull.