via Diamond tender a success | The Herald November 8, 2014
MORE than 400 buyers participated in the first ever diamond tender held in the country at the newly constructed diamond sale facilities at the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.
The diamond tender, which opened on Monday last week, attracted 410 buyers, the highest number of bargain hunters for the local gems so far.
The eleven-day tender attracted 133 companies and was described as successful as other tenders held in Antwerp, Belgium and in Dubai.
First Element Diamond Services, which is running the tenders, said construction of the Zimbabwe diamond tender facility had been completed.
“We successfully built 12 viewing rooms, with proper distribution rooms and proper camera systems and security systems. The Zimbabwe diamond tender facility compares with the best in the world,” said Mr Johan Erikson, managing director of First Element.
Construction of the diamond tender facility and the sale of the gems locally were influenced by the need to ensure security of the stones following the seizure of $45 million worth of diamonds by a South African company and some white former commercial farmers in Belgium.
A Belgian court is set to make a determination in the case in which South African-based Amari Platinum seized the diamonds after obtaining an ex parte order to seize the proceeds of diamonds that were on auction at Antwerp over disputed cancellation of its platinum claims in 2010.
In the Dutch farmers’ case, the Belgian court postponed hearing the claim to December 18. A Zimbabwean legal team led by Advocate Farai Mutamangira believes that the issues at play in the Amari case are the same as in the Dutch farmers’ case.
Twelve Dutch white farmers approached the court seeking to attach the same diamonds after Government compulsorily acquired their farms under the land reform programme to settle landless Zimbabweans.
“From our part, it is the same legal arguments and principles which will be ventilated in the judgments of December 4. It will basically tell us which way the Dutch farmers claim will go because if the court finds that the diamonds belong to the diamond mining companies to the exclusion of ZMDC, then it will also mean the exclusion of the Government of Zimbabwe,” said Advocate Mutamangira in an interview.
In the event that the court finds in favour of the diamond mining companies, it will be safer that the diamonds are sold locally to avoid the risk of attachment until Government and the diamond mining companies have put in place mechanisms to guarantee security of sales.
Although the Ministry has adopted a dual approach — to sell locally and globally — more attention is being paid to the security of the diamonds.
“Some of them (foreign jurisdictions) are not easy to follow,” said Adv Mutamangira.
“Some favour more the rights of the creditor as opposed to the rights of the debtor, some is unnecessarily swift and aggressive and pays very little regard to principles of law which would otherwise constitute a solid defence in this jurisdiction because of the various jurisprudences that you come across,” he said.
Mr Erikson said Government should ensure that locals were able to buy diamonds locally.
“I am amazed that it is difficult for a local Zimbabwean to buy diamonds. They have to go and buy somewhere else. I think this must be addressed,” he said.