Zim stops diamond auction
Harare – The Zimbabwe government swiftly moved to stop a planned auction of the Marange diamonds on Thursday with a company holding rival claims to the controversial fields warning that anyone buying the gems would be liable for arrest by Interpol. Mbada diamonds, a company formed through a partnership between the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and South African company Grandwell had announced that 300 000 carats of diamonds from the Chiadzwa fields would go under the hammer. But government intervened and stopped the proposed sale saying the country’s statutes as well as Kimberly Process (KP) regulations had not been followed. Mines and Mining Development, Permanent Secretary, Thankful Musukutwa said there would be no sale or export of the precious stones until government and KP requirements have been followed. He added that the sell of diamonds was sensitive and no announcement would be made prior to future auctions but reiterated that the government position was that there would be no sale or export of diamonds from Zimbabwe at the moment. “The due process of selling diamonds products in Zimbabwe involves the Minerals marketing of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), the police Minerals Unit, the Ministry of Mines and ZMDC, where diamonds from Marange are concerned. “In the case of Mbada diamonds, this process is yet to happen and government is committed to the administrative decision of the Kimberly Process certification Scheme adopted in Namibia last year in November,” Musukutwa told a press conference in Harare. Mbada Diamonds chairman, Dr Robert Mhlanga who had announced the auction on Wednesday back-tracked on his earlier statement saying he had only said the company is now “ready” to sell. Meanwhile, in a separate interview Andrew Cranswick the, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR) which is involved in an ownership dispute with the government over the Marange diamonds warned buyers against dealing in the Marange stones. Cranswick said any buyers who purchased the precious stones would be liable to arrest by Interpol because they would have bought “stolen goods”. Last year, the Harare High Court ruled that the Marange diamonds claims belong to ACR, but government is appealing the judgment. “The judgment of the High Court is clear. These are stolen goods because they belong to ACR. Anyone, a seller or buyer, in this country or internationally who deals in these diamonds is liable to arrest by Interpol,” Cranswick says.