High Court judge Justice Susan Mavangira barred the law firm representing the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) from continuing to appear for its clients in the tug-of-war for diamond ownership with Core Mining and Mineral Resources because the lawyers had proven to be an interested party.
Top Harare lawyer Farai Mutamangira and his legal firm Mutamangira and Associates were yesterday ordered to stop representing ZMDC and Marange Resources following Justice Mavangira’s ruling that the firm could not be allowed to continue appearing for the mining companies.
The ruling followed an urgent chamber application by George Chikumbirike, who is representing Core Mining, who objected to Mutamangira’s representation of ZMDC and Marange Resources, saying the lawyer was an interested party.
Chikumbirike said Mutamangira should not have initially appeared in the proceedings where it was resolved to take over Core Mining without following proper procedure as a legal practitioner of ZMDC and Marange Resources but should have appeared as their agent.
The basis for Chikumbirike’s argument was that Mutamangira was “intimately and emotionally” interested in matters involving ZMDC and Marange Resources and Core Mining.
Amongst other things, Chikumbirike said Mutamangira was involved in the investigations that were conducted in respect of Core Mining which led to the prosecution of its shareholders.
He further submitted Mutamangira and Associates ought not to be allowed to represent ZMDC and Marange Resources as the affidavit they filed on behalf of their clients were prepared and commissioned by their law firm.
Chikumbirike further submitted Mutamangira and/or his firm should have advised their clients accordingly and consequently of the need for a different firm to represent them as their legal practitioners while they would only act or appear as agents for the said clients.
However, Mutamangira submitted in his response the allegations made against him were based on speculation. He denied ever conducting investigations into the operations of Core Mining and ZMDC.
As regards the affidavits, Mutamangira submitted they were prepared by his clients although they were commissioned by his law firm. He argued it was not in contemplation of any legal proceedings.
But Justice Mavangira could not buy Mutamangira’s explanation as she entered the judgment in Chikumbirike’s favor.
“In conclusion, in relation to the other aspects discussed above it seems clear to me that Mr Mutamangira and the legal firm Messrs Mutamangira and Associates cannot properly be allowed to continue appearing as legal practitioners for and on behalf of the first and second respondent.
“I therefore uphold the preliminary point raised by the applicant’s legal practitioner to the extent stated above,” Justice Mavangira said.
The court battle between Core Mining and ZMDC came about following the decision by ZMDC to take over the ownership of Canadile Miners where Core Mining and Marange Resources had 50/50% equity accusing the shareholders of Core Mining of misrepresenting facts to the government.
Core Mining director Lovemore Kurotwi is suing ZMDC, Marange Resources, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), Canadile Miners and the Mines Minister Obert Mpofu for allegedly stealing his share of diamonds.
Kurotwi is meanwhile being tried in a case where he and suspended ZMDC officials are accused of defrauding government of diamonds worth over $10 million by misrepresenting facts to the Mines ministry and fraudulently acquired diamond mining rights.