When are you coming home?

The message below is one of many that I have received from a number of well wishers who genuinely believe that my decision to acquire South African citizenship was in some way connected to the attempt by the government of Zimbabwe to extradite me.\r\n

Below is an extract of my correspondence with Dominic, a worker at Shabanie Mine, one of the companies whose control and administration was placed under a state-appointed Administrator, Mr. Gwaradzimba.

Dominic

Mr When are coming to take over Shabanie. Takuvara nenzara kuno kuShabanie

11:04Mutumwad

thanks

11:09Mutumwad

The company belongs to you and is resident in Zimbabwe. Whether I am dead or alive the company must continue to discharge its obligations to its customers. It should, therefore, not be relevant when I come home. What is regrettable is that the workers whose lives are affected by political interference are silent expecting me to be the only voice out there.

11:13Dominic

We have tried but nothing is coming out. Last month We got $50 as our salary just imagine. During your tenure We never had problems but now it is going from Bad to worse

11:17Dominic is offline.

It is evident from Dominic’s version that at some stage, I was personally in control of Shabanie Mashaba Mines (Private) Limited (SMM). The SMM group was not only engaged in mining activities but a host of other activities.

To Dominic as well as many other people, I must have been personally in control of over 20 companies in the group merely by virtue of the shares held in the companies concerned.

While the GOZ has held that the decision to assume control of SMM was instigated by employees of the company, it is clear that the welfare of employees has not improved under state control. This is not unexpected.

No matter how much I represent that I am not in exile or a fugitive from justice, a view exists that because of the interests that I have in Zimbabwe, I must have been a resident and more significantly in control of the companies that have since been expropriated by the state.

No human being can ever be in 20 places at the same time. I am, however, credited for being the brains behind the SMM group when this is not the case.

Each company had its own management and all one needed to do is to support the decisions made by the people responsible for ensuring that the company did what it was expected by its customers and other stakeholders.

A company does not exist solely to satisfy the needs of shareholders but can only exist if it generates value that can be exchanged into cash which then is used to sustain the operations. Shareholders occupy a space outside the companies unless they choose to serve the companies they hold shares in as directors or general employees.

With respect to my status, the GOZ has made the case that I am a fugitive from justice. This allegation has been accepted at face value and it is clear that Dominic also accepts the same allegation hence his plea to me to go back to Zimbabwe to assume personal control of SMM.

The facts are that the GOZ applied for my extradition from South Africa in May 2004 on allegations of externalisation. The application was dismissed in June 2004 only to be followed by declaration by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Chinamasa, on 9 July that I was to be a specified person in terms of Section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

I applied to have the specification order set aside but the application was unsuccessful as expected. I then appealed to the Supreme Court under Case No. 67/07. This matter that was heard by three Supreme Court Justices, Cheda JA, Gwaunza JA, and Garwe JA on 17 July 2007 with the judgment being handed down on 17 September 2008.

The point raised by Hon. Chinamasa in limine was that I was a fugitive from justice and should not be allowed to use the justice machinery for my alleged protection. In the judgment, Justice Cheda who wrote the judgment described a "fugitive" borrowing from the Shorter Oxford Dictionary that says: "one who flees or tries to escape from danger, apt or tending to flee, given to or in the act of running away".

He ruled that:

"There is no evidence to show that the Appellant (Mawere) left Zimbabwe sometime ago and is now a citizen of the Republic of South Africa. There is no evidence to show that he deliberately put himself beyond the reach of the law. There is no evidence to show that he intended to go into hiding when he left Zimbabwe. It may well be that he was aware of some unlawful acts on his part when he left Zimbabwe, but there is no evidence to link his departure from Zimbabwe with the act that led to his specification.

For this court to hold that he is a fugitive from justice it would have to be shown that he left Zimbabwe with the intention to flee and deliberately put himself beyond the jurisdiction of this court to avoid any legal action that might be brought up against him, or that he is in hiding within the jurisdiction of Zimbabwe.

The Appellant was specified when he was already a citizen of the Republic of South Africa.

I therefore cannot hold that the Appellant falls under the category of a fugitive from justice.

The fact that an attempt was made to arrest and bring him to Zimbabwe and that he is avoiding coming to Zimbabwe does not make him a fugitive from justice.

No other person can be compelled to leave his country of residence and citizenship in order to go and subject himself to the jurisdiction of another country to face any legal action in that country."

Notwithstanding this clear position of the Supreme Court in respect of my personal circumstances, it never ceases to amaze me how many people still believe that my decision to reside in South Africa is connected with the actions of the GOZ.

As we continue the discussion on what is needed in Zimbabwe, we have no choice but to pause and reflect on what it really means to be Zimbabwean and who should drive the agenda for progress.

Are people like us required to be in Zimbabwe for it to lift it up? I do not believe that it is necessary for people to relocate to the country as my own experience has shown that I did not need to reside in Zimbabwe for me to be credited for the kind of initiatives that I was associated with.

Even journalists who write about me do not know how best to describe me. Surely, in their wisdom they cannot accept that I am as South African as anyone else who makes the choice to adopt the country as his/her home.

There are many South African nationals who fall into my category who were born in other countries but decided to acquire citizenship.

Such persons may very well continue to associate themselves with the activities in their countries of birth. To me this should be encouraged.

By taking citizenship in South Africa, I should like to believe that there is no loss to Zimbabwe but I can point to a number of benefits to the country.

Being in South Africa allows me to network with people who can add value to the Zimbabwean cause. The call for people of Zimbabwean heritage to go back to Zimbabwe is not unique to the country. It reflects our own perception of citizenship and its obligations.

There are many who like me have taken foreign citizenships but want to remain in the closet.

However, we should critically interrogate the question of citizenship with a view to mapping a way forward on how best the interests of Zimbabwe can be advanced.

Zimbabwe needs foreign investment hence the call for the removal of targeted sanctions. If this is the case, then it must be accepted that such investment will necessarily attract human capital that may not be available in the country.

If the skills are available, Zimbabwe will have to import skills and one cannot take the view that such skills must be restricted to Zimbabwean born nationals.

Human capital is mobile and will naturally gravitate towards successful and open societies. The best way for Zimbabwe to attract human capital is to restore the rule of law and subscribe to the values, beliefs and principles that inspire confidence.

If I am classified as a fugitive by the GOZ notwithstanding the court’s ruling, then one must know that the wheels of justice are off and no one is safe.

What is even scarier is that ordinary buy into this kind of self-serving propaganda.