|Government loses iron ore claims appeal|
|Tuesday, 08 May 2012 01:13|
BUREAUCRATIC bungling has cost the Government its appeal to gain control of iron ore claims at Mwenezi Ranch. The plan was to transfer the claims to Essar Africa Holdings to resume operations at the defunct Zisco, a senior Government official has said.
It emerged, after the deal was signed, that the iron ore claims Essar wanted to exploit were owned by a former Zisco employee, Mr Roderick Mumbire, through a company called Bearable Prospects, prompting the Government to lodge an appeal in the Gweru High Court.
“We lost that appeal about two weeks ago,” he said. “Unfortunately our Commissioner, who is handling the matter, sat on court papers that indicated that we were supposed to attend the hearing. We only got to know about it when the judgment had been passed. The guy (Mr Mumbire) got a default judgment.”
Mr Chimanikire explained that the court had also based its judgment on a clause in the Mines and Minerals Act, which stipulates that claims not opposed within two years of being awarded could not be challenged.
“The judge erred because that clause refers to unexplored areas but that was a reserved area. It is Government property,” he said, adding that the Government had lodged another appeal.
He said Government would “do everything” in its power to ensure the deal sailed through.
The Indian firm intends to invest over US$4 billion over the next four years at NewZim Steel.
When operations at the plant resume, annual steel output is expected to rise to 2,5 million tonnes.
Once implemented, the investment is expected to turn around the fortunes of Redcliff town and also improve the welfare of over 3 500 workers left jobless after operations ceased. — New Ziana.