Mawere returns home only to find his empire in ruins

HARARE – Business mogul Mutumwa Mawere is back home. Undoubtedly, he arrives to find his business empire in ruins.

The tycoon touched down at Harare International Airport at 1355 hours yesterday aboard a British Airways flight from Johannesburg after spending six years “in the wilderness”.

Mawere, who was de-specified in May this year together with four other businesspersons, becomes the second high-profile returnee in a club of state-condemned businessmen and corporate leaders who fled into exile in 2004 after the state specified them, accusing them of foreign currency externalisation and corruption.

Trust Holdings boss William Nyemba was the first to test the waters of freedom when he returned to negotiate the revival of Trust Bank, which was forcibly disbanded and merged into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe the same year.

Those still at large include former Intermarket Holdings chief Nicholas Vingirai, Barbican Holdings founder Mthuli Ncube and prominent Telecel shareholder James Makamba.

Immigration officials at the airport yesterday confirmed that Mawere entered the country without any hassle from the police or security agents, contrary to speculation that the cancellation of a warrant of arrest against him last Thursday was probably a police trap.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who had earlier warned the business mogul would be arrested on arrival in spite of his de-specification, allegedly found no legal grounds to prosecute him and subsequently dropped all charges.

Mawere was specified on allegations of externalising funds from SMM Holdings Limited and of corruptly funding his companies with state money. The state accused Mawere of externalising $18 464 595,27, CAD$628 071,84 and ZAR4 515 367,48.

The withdrawal of the charges has prepared strong legal ground for the businessman to fight the disputed annexation of SMM Holdings by the state in 2004 through a reconstruction order issued in terms of section 4 of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Reconstruction of the state-indebted and solvent companies regulation. 

The reconstruction order placed SMM Holdings – parent to Shabanie Mine and Mashava Mine in Zvishavane – under the management of Afaras Gwaradzimba of AMG Global Chartered Accountants whom the state appointed administrator in 2004.

The same year, government unsuccessfully made a $2 million bid for SMM and THZ Holdings shares through AMG Global.

Soon after jetting in, Mawere held an urgent meeting with leaders of his vast portfolio of local companies among others.

He later met journalists at Meikles Hotel where he is booked.

NewsDay understands, the business mogul is planning a trip to Shabanie and Mashava mines to assess the gravity of damage that hit the operations following the flooding of Mashava after Zesa cut power over unpaid bills. – NewsDay