Gono backs-off on Mawere under pressure from Chinamasa and Mnangagwa

SMM Holdings, owned by Zimbabwean-born South African businessman Mutumwa Mawere, was taken over by the government in 2004 after allegedly failing to pay back money owed to the state, while Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa ordered Mawere specified.

However sources said Gono backtracked after the motor-mouthed rogue Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is the Zanu PF principle in the SADC backed coalition talks, threatened the use of MDC-T call for his ouster.

Sources said Robert Mugabe made the dramatic shift in support of Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chinamasa over the embattled Central Bank Governor after an incident in which the Minister of Housing and Amenities, Fidelis Mahashu of MDC-T was bitten up and robbed at Mawere’s house in South Africa.

An MDC-T intelligence enquiry has come out with a preliminary report, and it has linked the biting-up and robbery of the Minister at Mawere’s house, to members of the Central Intelligence Organisation as part of a grand plan to lynch Mawere on MDC-T. The plan was hatched by Jonathan Moyo and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

It is believed that plans are now at an advanced stage for Mnangagwa’s dodgy business front-man Billy Rautenbach to takeover SMM and add it to their growing list of mineral rights snatched up in the dark corridors of Zanu PF business world.

The brutal Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and long time business partner are alleged to be very much involved in the country’s latest biggest platinum mine construction by a British based mining company Central African Mining & Exploration Co (Camec).

A few months ago, a company linked to the two business pals, Clidder Minerals snatched an US$800-million coal mine deal with Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) in unexplained circumstances.

The Central Bank Governor, in July wrote to Robert Mugabe advising him that the seizure of SMM was unjust and illegal and that the conglomerate, which operates one of the biggest asbestos manufacturing, plants in Africa and has interests in various sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy, should be returned to its owner.

However in a fresh twist to the long-running SMM saga, Gono last month wrote to Chinamasa apologising for his advice to Mugabe which he said was defective because he had acted without full information or details pertaining to the case.

Gono accuses Mawere of giving him half-backed information and claims he was deeply "embarrassed" on getting to learn the full details of the SMM saga when he later met Mugabe, Chinamasa and the troubled firm’s state appointed administrator, Arafas Gwaradzimba. "I confirm that independent of informed input from the administrator of SMM or the Minister of Justice … I prepared (an advisory) to the Head of State," Gono wrote in the letter to Chinamasa on August 21.

"Following these vital consultations, I confirmed, as I do now, that my advisory briefs to His Excellency has been answered by the administrator and Minister (Chinamasa) in front of the Head of State and that I had no other role to play in the case," Gono wrote in the letter to Chinamasa on August 21.

He added: "This thus brought to an end my advisory role and withdrawal of my advisory notes which were then returned to the bank because all the matters that had been raised, have been explained or were to be attended to or would have been raised out of ignorance emanating." Both Gono and Chinamasa were not immediately available for comment on the mater and so was Mawere.

But speculation was rife in Harare that Gono acted under pressure from Chinamasa who it is alleged is working with powerful Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to ensure Mawere loses his properties. Mnangagwa and Mawere were once viewed within Zimbabwe’s political and business circles as very close associates and it is widely speculated that the SMM owner’s troubles began with his fallout with the powerful defence minister.

Mawere — acknowledged even by his enemies as one of the sharpest business brains to emerge out of Zimbabwe — lives in South Africa where he has built another business empire. (Additional reporting: Zimonline)