Parly summonses diamond miners directors

diamonds_marangeHARARE A special parliamentary committee investigating operations at Zimbabwes controversial Marange diamond field has summonsed directors of two firms mining the deposits to appear before it today or face possible arrest. (Pictured DIAMOND RUSH . . . illegal diamond miners at the Ma

A senior member of Parliaments portfolio committee on mines told ZimOnline that summonses were last Friday issued to the directors of Mbada Investments and Canadile Miners, the joint-venture firms formed last year by state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and some South African investors to mine the Marange field that is also known as Chiadzwa.

The decision to issue summonses which sources say were hand delivered by the police follows the company directors repeated failure to appear before the committee.

“We took legal action and issued summons to be hand delivered by the police to the chairmen and directors of Mbada and Canadile to appear before the committee on Tuesday (today), said our source, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to discuss the matter with the Press.

Failure (to appear) would result in Parliaments legal committee taking steps to arrest (the company directors) and sentence them to prison, the committee member said.

Parliament has powers to send to jail anyone found guilty of violating the Houses rules and regulations.

The directors of Mbada and Canadile have over the past four weeks dodged appearing before the parliamentary committee at one time suggesting that they could not give evidence before the committee until the courts rule on an application regarding ownership of the Marange claims.

Mbada and Canadile have also indicated that their refusal to appear before the committee is on advice from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

The state media reported on Sunday that Mbada and Canadile have written to parliamentary clerk Austin Zvoma requesting postponement of their appearance before the committee until the courts conclude an application by British-based Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR) challenging the two firms rights to exploit the Marange claims.

ACR owns legal title to the diamond claims but was controversially forced off Marange by the government about four years ago.

Our source said the parliamentary committee will insist that the directors appear before it because the matters it wants to discuss with the company officials are not related to the ACR court case.

The parliamentary committee among other things wants to establish why and who licenced Mbada and Canadile to exploit the Marange deposits without following proper procedures.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has admitted that his department did not follow proper procedure when it allowed the two firms to work the Marange claims but said it was because the government was in urgent need of cash from the diamonds.

Mbada and Canadile were brought to Marange in a bid to bring operations at the notorious field in line with standards stipulated by world diamond industry watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP).

However, the two companies operations in the field are shrouded in controversy, amid revelations that some members of the boards of the two firms were once illegal drug and diamond dealers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone.

Some of the directors of the two firms are also known to have close ties with Zimbabwes military establishment that is accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of diamonds from Marange and offloading them onto the foreign black market for precious stones.

Marange is one of the worlds most controversial diamond fields with reports that soldiers sent to guard the claims after the government took over the field in October 2006 from ACR that owned the deposits committed gross human rights abuses against illegal miners who had descended on the field.

Human rights groups have been pushing for a ban on Zimbabwean diamonds but last November, the country escaped a KP ban with the global body giving Harare a June 2010 deadline to make reforms to comply with its regulations.

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