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Supreme court to rule on River Ranch saga

PREVIOUS owners of River Ranch diamond mine in Beitbridge, Bubye Minerals, want a business group led by retired Army General Solomon Mujuru kicked off the mine and to be paid 70% of the net profit made since 2004 after they filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The appeal by Bubye Minerals owned by husband and wife, Michael and Adele Farquhar, is seeking to quash a High Court decision that declared River Ranch Ltd the rightful owners of the disputed mine.
The Supreme Court will finally put to rest a six-year ownership wrangle with the business group led by Mujuru, husband of Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Bubye Minerals’ lawyer Terrence Hussein successfully filed the application two weeks ago after a Supreme Court ruling reinstated the appeal and suspended Justice Lawrence Kamocha’s judgement dismissing Bubye Minerals’ claim to Special Grant 1278.
Bubye Minerals claimed ownership of the special grant that gives mining rights to River Ranch Ltd and this sparked a fierce legal battle between the two mining companies which has been ongoing since 2006.
In his appeal, Hussein is claiming “an order in terms of Section 118 of the Companies Act rectifying the members’ register to reflect that 70% of the shares or any other equity are owned by the plaintiff (Michael and Adele Farquhar) and the balance of 30% of the shares being owned by the third defendant (Saudi Arabia’s Adel Abdul Rahmin al Aujan) from 2004 to date.”
It further stated that the board of River Ranch Ltd that was appointed without the consent of the Farquhars was illegally constituted and all actions and decisions purportedly done by it are null and void.
Bubye Minerals is seeking an order that nullifies the statutory returns purportedly filed by the directors from 2004 and the Registrar of Companies to amend that statutory record.
They also want an audited set of accounts for River Ranch Ltd.
“The first to fourth defendant (River Ranch Ltd, Rani International, Al-Aujan and Khupukile Investments (Pvt) (Ltd) jointly and severally pays 70% of net profit derived from River Ranch mine from 2004 to date,” reads the application.
Bubye Minerals was evicted from the mine in 2004, in a move that has resulted in this long-drawn legal battle and accusations of diamond smuggling with the company claiming that it was militarily and forcibly evicted by current operators River Ranch Ltd, in which Mujuru is one of the directors.
According to the Farquhars, Bubye Minerals was appointed to run River Ranch mine in 1998 after government liquidators set to restore the operations which had been suspended after previous owners had financial constraints.
They then brought in investment partners, including Al-Aujan who own Rani International, and mining commenced.
However, in 2000, the mine experienced several problems, including a hurricane-induced flood that impacted negatively on production.
Al Aujan brought his stake to 30% after Bubye Minerals approached him for more financing. Their relations soured and this resulted in 2004 with Aujan calling in past loans of over US$1,16 million, which Bubye Minerals failed to repay.
Aujan then decided to bring in Khupukile Investments owned by former Zanu PF legislator Tirivanhu Mudariki and Mujuru and took control of the mine, thereby sparking the on-going legal battle.


Faith Zaba

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