Mawere in flurry of meetings including one with Chiyangwa

SOUTH African-based businessman Mr Mutumwa Mawere, who flew into Harare on Tuesday, held talks with senior Government officials yesterday as he seeks to re-assert authority on his troubled business empire.

Mr Mawere, whose 2004 warrant of arrest was cancelled last week, also held meetings with local businessmen who include controversial businessman Phillip Chiyangwa.

The businessman held talks with Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu and Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi.

He was also due to hold meetings with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, Finance Minister Tendai Biti among other senior Government officials.

Mr Mawere flew into the country on Tuesday afternoon aboard a British Airways flight and was booked at the Meikles Hotel.

The businessman was due to return to South Africa yesterday but had to extend his stay until today to conclude discussions with Government officials.

In an interview, Mr Mawere could not be drawn into giving details about the meetings but confirmed that he had lined up several meetings with senior Government officials in his bid to re-assert his authority over the companies.

“What we need to establish is which Government department has jurisdiction over these companies so that a way forward can be spelt out.

“We want to know who we should approach, who can make decisions relating the affairs of these companies,” said Mr Mawere.

Shabanie Mashava Mine, which was one of his cash cows, was placed under the administration of chartered accountant Mr Afaras Gwaradzimba in terms of the Reconstruction of State Indebted and Insolvent Companies Act.

Mr Mawere said it was futile to talk to Mr Gwaradzimba whom he said was a creature of a legal statute.

“Mr Gwaradzimba did not create himself, he is a creature of a legal statute reporting to an authority. We are in the process of establishing who is the relevant authority to talk to,” he said.

Among the companies in which Mr Mawere had an interest are Zimre, CFI Holdings, General Beltings, Turnall, NicozDiamond Insurance, FSI Agricom, Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited, Firstel and Midsec Security.

The cancellation of the warrant of arrest for the businessman followed earlier measures taken by the Government, which saw Mr Mawere being de-specified.

Mr Mawere was wanted by police after allegations of externalising foreign currency to the tune of US$18 million were levelled against him in 2004.

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono subsequently wrote an advisory letter to President Mugabe absolving Mr Mawere of violating the Exchange Control Act.

Government said at the time, the de-specification did not mean Mr Mawere had no case to answer as he could still face criminal charges.

In his report, Gono suggested that a transitional board be established to manage Mr Mawere’s firms in preparation for the handing back of the assets.

Gono’s report advised amendments to the Reconstruction of State Indebted and Insolvency Companies Act.

A police source yesterday said Mr Mawere’s warrant of arrest was cancelled because the Attorney-General’s Office had declined to prosecute the case.

The AG’s Office reportedly reached the decision after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which administers the Exchange Control Act, exonerated the businessman of any wrongdoing.

The central bank gave the police in April this year a record of asbestos exports by African Associated Mines, a division of SMM, to the tune of US$2 million.

The exports, which were between the year 2001 and 2004 had the CD1 forms processed through CFX and MBCA banks.

“AA Mines entered into a purchase agreement with a South African company, namely Southern Asbestos Sales, granting the latter exclusive rights to purchase all AA Mines products,” read the letter by RBZ chief inspector in the Exchange Control Division, Mr Onias Masiiwa.

SMM has drastically scaled down operations and is saddled with debts running into millions of dollars reportedly accrued during Mr Gwaradzimba’s tenure.

Mr Gwaradzimba has, however, said the mining firm had obsolete equipment and required recapitalisation.

He argued that while he had approached many local and foreign financial institutions, it had been difficult to secure lines of credit owing to legal battles pitting the State against Mr Mawere.