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Chidakwa must keep his 'dirty hands' off Shabanie Mashaba Mines

by Staff reporter
16 May 2017 at 13:09hrs | Views
Mines minister Walter Chidakwa must keep his "dirty hands" off Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM), businessman Mutuma Mawere said yesterday.

This comes after Chidakwa told Senators last week that Treasury would soon inject $15 million to resuscitate SMM.

Chidakwa also revealed that his ministry had secured asbestos markets in Russia, Kazakhstan and India.

SMM, in Zvishavane and Mashava, ground to a halt in 2008, three years after the government seized them from Mawere, under a controversial "reconstruction" law that allows the State to take over assets of businesses deemed to be insolvent and incapable of servicing loans and charges owed to State institutions and agencies.

The mines were subsequently placed under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which has been looking for an investor to put up $140 million required to re-open the mines.

"Chidakwa must be a drunk if he says reconstruction is akin to judicial management, he surely cannot come from the same earth that I come from," a miffed Mutumwa told the Daily News yesterday.

The mothballing of SMM mines have seen workers being paid a paltry $50 a month and students moving into SMM houses in a bid to provide liquidity to the shuttered mines.

SMM at one time was the world's sixth largest asbestos producer with an annual output exceeding 140 000 tonnes.

"The hearts which caused it to fail are the ones which are bleeding," Mawere, a former senior investments officer at the World Bank, said.

"In any constitutional State, one would have expected that targeting Mawere victimises innocent people.

"The use of public power to interfere, obstruct and undermine development cannot be condoned in any manner or form."

The self-exiled businessman lost control of SMM after government, accused him of pillaging the company's coffers to pay for his shares previously held by Turner and Newall plc, an accusation he strenuously denies.

Parliamentarians have recommended that government restore Mawere's ownership of SMM to enable the mines to reopen.

But this has not happened.

A United Kingdom court ruled that Mawere's Africa Resources Limited (ARL) had legitimate title to the mining firm after a government-appointed curator took the dispute to the UK.

"The assertion by . . . Chidakwa is not only mischievous but demonstrates the contempt in which some of these beneficiaries of borrowed power behave when appointed," Mawere, who is also the vice president of Africa Heritage Society, said.

"What would give Chidakwa standing to misinform, distort and divert attention from the core issues of constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law? Is SMM a parastatal and if not, then under what legal authority does he purport to represent the affairs of SMM?"

Mawere reiterated that a UK court ruled that Mawere's ARL had legitimate title to the mining firm.

"Chinamasa and Chidakwa seem to operate as if Zimbabwe is an animal kingdom and in any animal kingdom, workers will never get paid because commerce does not matter," Mawere said.

"As if the ministry has nothing better to do, it would appear that this minister of Mines should not have been elected but appointed as an employee to pretend to run mining affairs, with no experience, no understanding, and no sound mind to run anything of value.

"This is not the Zimbabwe that I expect but a mountain of confusion and stupidity."

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