Chinamasa lashes out at Mawere’s return

JUSTICE and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, has said the reconstruction order of Shabanie and Mashaba Mine Holdings (SMM) remains effective, days after Zimbabwe-born businessman Mr Mutumwa Mawere who owned the company, visited the country.

Minister Chinamasa said although Mr Mawere has portrayed himself as a victim of some conspiracy or has been portrayed in the media as such, after his companies were taken over by the Government in 2004, he “is the author of his own problems”.

Now a South African citizen, Mr Mawere was in the country last week, a visit he was quoted saying was the first step in his bid to reclaim SMM and its associate companies.

He left the country more than five years ago after his specification under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
 
Law enforcement agents were seeking to arrest him on allegations that he externalised more than a cumulative US$20 million in foreign currency through some of his companies.

The Government subsequently took over the companies and put them under an administrator, Mr Afaras Gwaradzimba.

Minister Chinamasa said it was in the public interest and in order to set the record straight in relation to the status of SMM and its associated companies because of recent Press articles and statements attributed to Mr Mawere.

The minister said the background to these recent developments emanate from the de-specification of Mr Mawere in May and the subsequent cancellation of the warrant of arrest issued against the businessman in 2004.

“Subsequent to the cancellation of his warrant of arrest, Mr Mawere, now a South African citizen and resident, returned to Zimbabwe and has issued certain statements which have been published in the Press,” said Minister Chinamasa in a statement yesterday.

“The Press articles state and insinuate that Mr Mawere has had, and intends to have meetings with Government officials in order to reclaim what is referred to as ‘his business empire’ including SMM, Zimre, Turnall, General Beltings, CFI, FSI Agricom, Firstel, Midsec Security and Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited.

"It is factually and legally wrong, incorrect, misleading and mischievous to suggest that Mr Mawere owns or controls SMM and or its associates.”

Minister Chinamasa said the specification of Mr Mawere in July 2004 was done procedurally in accordance with the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Chapter 9:16).

He added that the reconstruction of SMM arose out of SMM being State-indebted and insolvent as defined in the Laws of Reconstruction.

“As part of the reconstruction of SMM, the administrator has had to make applications in the High Court of Zimbabwe (details of which cannot be discussed in the Press as certain applications are still before the courts), and in South Africa: to set aside a court order fraudulently obtained with the connivance of Mr Mawere, which sought to avoid the remittance of up to 74 million South African rand of SMM’s export proceeds; for the liquidation of Southern Asbestos Sales (Pty) Limited (SAS), to recover in excess of US$13 million due in respect of SMM’s export proceeds that SAS had failed to remit back to SMM in Zimbabwe; for the liquidation of ARPS (Pty) Limited, again to recover monies due to SMM in Zimbabwe; and one cotton ginnery and delinter from Southern Cotton Sales (Pty) (SCS) Limited in South Africa due to FSI Agricom Cotton (Private) Limited in Zimbabwe, a result of FSI Cotton’s export proceeds not remitted back to Zimbabwe by SCS.”

He said the reconstruction order on SMM remains effective until he (Minister Chinamasa) cancels it as minister responsible in terms of Section 35 of the Reconstruction Act.

“With effect from 1 January 2006, the administrator, with my approval and with the knowledge of the responsible Cabinet Committee, removed from reconstruction, the SMM associates.

“The reconstruction of SMM, which is still under way, has been conducted properly by the administrator, in accordance with the law. A scheme of reconstruction was submitted by the administrator, to me, as the minister responsible. I subsequently tabled the scheme before Cabinet and, with its knowledge and consultation, l approved the scheme on 18 October 2005.”

He said following the approval scheme of reconstruction, the administrator has been implementing it.

Minister Chinamasa said despite the allegations against him, Mr Mawere has been claiming innocence and making insinuations against the minister.

“The suggestion that Mr Mawere is a victim, and all of a sudden an angel . . . are clearly unfortunate, unfounded and, indeed, mischievous,” said the Minister.

“However, this should not detract from the fact that Mr Mawere is the author of his own problems (if he has any).

“He has personalised issues that are legal, and has decided to do so through the Press when he has had his day in court, and when the courts continue to be at his disposal by due process.”