Mawere's company appeals to Biti over assets

HARARE – SOUTHERN Asbestos Sales (SAS), a South African company currently in liquidation has appealed to Finance minister Tendai Biti to intervene in its dispute with SMM over asbestos sales bringing a new dimension into the fight over Mutumwa Mawere’s assets

SMM is a company formerly owned by Mawere’s Africa Resources Limited (ARL).

The government seized the company under the controversial reconstruction laws that subsequently put the entity under judicial administration.

SMM accuses SAS of not remitting asbestos sales amounting to US$18 464 595.19; CAD$628 071.84 and  R4 515 367.48.

In a letter to Biti, SAS director Pariwana Mariemuthi accused SMM administrator Arafas Gwaradzimba of trying to frustrate the SAS liquidation process.

“You are aware that SAS has been identified as culpable and liable for the same amounts that SMM has claimed in South Africa from the estate,” Muriemuthi said in the letter.

“We appreciate that the effect of declaring SAS, ARProjects Services (Pty) Limited (ARPS) and Petter as culpable is effectively to ensure that any claims against SMM by all these companies will not be honoured in terms of Zimbabwean law.”

SAS said its indebtedness to SMM was at the centre of the Reconstruction Order being issued in respect of SMM as well as the extradition application and the subsequent specification of Mawere.

Mariemuthi said SMM was also indebted to other companies owned by Mawere and had used SAS to settle the amounts.

According to Mariemuthi, SMM had acknowledged that it was indebted to Coma Transport (Ply) Limited and Petter Trading (Ply) Limited, companies wholly owned by ARPS.

He said SMM owed Coma R8 829 704.04 and was indebted to Petter to the tune of R21 701 975.64 and US$89 669.25.

“In addition SMM was indebted to Eastern Shipping a portion of which was settled by SAS in the amount of R4 225 000 subsequent to March 31, 2004.

“SMM supplied a list of debtors that still owe SAS in the amount of US$6 852 023.98 and CAD$362 163.72.”

An additional amount of R994 605.72 that SMM owed to Shipping Consolidated Holdings (Pty) Limited was settled on its behalf by SAS,” he said.

He said Gwaradzimba had not availed himself to the liquidators to confirm SMM’s indebtedness to ARPS’ subsidiary companies as well as confirming the receipt by SMM of the amounts that were remitted by SAS subsequent to March 31, 2004.

“It is for this reason that Ms. Keevy on behalf of the liquidators visited your office to seek your intervention in resolving the issues with a view to winding up the affairs of SAS,” he said.

Kareen Keevy, the SAS liquidator was in the country last week and held meetings with Biti, Giles Mutsekwa, co-Minister of Home Affairs and Samson Mangoma an Assistant Commissioner with the police appointed to investigate claims that Mawere had externalised large sums of money.

Mariemuthi said Gwaradzimba had instructed SAS to stop paying for asbestos delivered and Mangoma was not aware of the development.

“He (Mangoma) was also ignorant of the payments made by SAS to SMM as well as the advances made by SAS to SMM’s South African creditors,” Mariemuthi said.

“It is evident from my dialogue with Mr. Mangoma that notwithstanding the fact that the externalisation allegations arose from the fact that SAS was allegedly indebted to SMM, no attempt has been made by him or his colleagues to contact the liquidators in whose control the affairs of SAS is vested.”

“As the Minister of Finance, we believe that you have a substantial interest in this matter to the extent that the state may have advanced any funds to SMM pursuant to the implementation of the so-called reconstruction.”