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Van Hoogstraten opens up on Hwange Colliery

by Staff reporter
04 Dec 2018 at 06:41hrs | Views
BRITISH businessman Nicholas van Hoogstraten yesterday opened up to journalists on the demise of Hwange Colliery Company Limited, saying it was being run down by corruption and financial mismanagement.

Van Hoogstraten, who holds 31% shareholding in Hwange, told journalists that corruption was endemic at the struggling coalminer and alleged that a Chinese gasification company in Hwange was externalising about $10 million monthly unchecked.

The tycoon was speaking after MPs from the ruling Zanu-PF party blocked him from testifying before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines.

"The biggest wrong that has happened at HCCL is corruption and mismanagement — and you never know how much money was stolen, and government is affected, as the fiscus has gotten nothing for years and yet it is a public company that brings no benefit to the country," Van Hoogstraten said.

"What I can say is that anybody who has a previous history with Hwange is under suspicion for corruption, and it looks like that the situation is going from bad to worse, and this has escalated in the past three years.

"There is a gasification company which is a joint venture with the Chinese — I shall not name it — but it got into the joint venture in the previous government (of former President Robert Mugabe) and they externalised about $10 million and this was going on month-by-month, yet no one wants to do anything about it."

The businessman said he had suggested that the army be deployed in Hwange to protect the interests of the people and the State, but no one listened.

Van Hoogstraten said he became one of the biggest shareholders of HCCL in 1966 (40% shares) together with Anglo American.

"Soon after independence, Anglo American and I put a proposal to government in 1992, which was effected in 1993 that our shares must be donated to the people of Zimbabwe, and so they were donated. Effectively, I have always been the biggest shareholder," he said.

Government now has 37,1% shares in Hwange, Messina Investments (16,76%), Meikles Steel (9,76%), London Register (6,87%), National Social Security Authority (6,45%), Hamilton and Hamilton Trust (4,9%), Local Authorities and Pension Funds (1,2%), as well as several other shareholders (4 401 in total).

He said even though he had come all the way from London to give oral evidence before the mines committee, it had snubbed him.

"It is not a burden for me to come and visit this beautiful country. Some MPs might be trying to cover up for a minister. That is exactly what is happening and whether it is a minister or not, they are trying to cover up corruption."

He said as a shareholder, he was not consulted when HCCL was put under reconstruction, even though the company is listed on the London, Johannesburg and Zimbabwe stock exchanges.

Hwange's shares have since been suspended from trading on those bourses.

Source - newsday

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