Home » Business » We Must Revisit Mawere Saga [column]

I have spent five years digging up information on the Brother Mutumwa Mawere saga because it illustrates my theory that ZANU-PF thinks with its heart, acts politically, and then tries to justify its actions after the fact. Procedures are ignored and therefore avoidable egregious mistakes are made.I must say at the beginning that my supreme Brother Mawere does not agree with my thesis, and that he places emphasis on what he believes to be a fact, that Mukuru is either ignorant of the correct facts of the case, or that he was misinformed. That assertion does not in any way contradict my thesis even though the brother seems to think so.

Here are the facts, as I see them. When Mawere acquired Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM) in March 1996, the Financial Gazette referred to him as an unknown businessman who had acquired a substantial asset from Turner and Newell, United Kingdom. While Mawere may not have been known in Zimbabwe, he was recruited by the World Bank under a Young Professionals Programme, thus qualifying him to the title of “whiz kid.” Mawere was 34-years-old or thereabouts when he acquired the Shabanie Mashava Mines. A whiz kid is a brilliant person, in his case one with an indefatigable grasp of figures and details worthy of an Einstein. Such persons are nerdy (highly intellectual) and Lord have mercy on them, sometimes lack common social skills.

Nevertheless, and here is my first point, any nation, wishing to aance the human cause, must suffer these whiz kids kindly because they bring to the table enormous gifts and in Mawere’s case, a grasp of economic fundamentals beyond our everyday imagination. They do not suffer fools kindly.

A report by the Chindori-Chininga parliamentary committee described the SMM assets as follows:

“Shabanie and Gaths mines are part of the SMM Holdings and during their heydays were ranked the sixth producer of Chrysotile fibre in the world. At full capacity the mines can contribute about 10 percent of the country’s foreign currency revenues, employing about 4 000 people and it is estimated that 60 000 people in and around Mashava and Zvishavane towns benefit directly and indirectly from the two mines. In view of the large reserves (25 years) and demand for the resource globally, the two mines still have an important role to play.”

As we write, workers have not been paid for the last two or more years. Mawere had many enemies, one, a senior manager in his transport company in South Africa. This mole was a secret agent of the Reserve Bank, which accused him on the basis of this secret evidence, of externalising funds.

Having failed to extradite Mawere from South Africa, Mawere and his companies were “specified” in 2004. While Brother Reggie Saruchera was appointed “investigator,” government proceeded to acquire Mawere’s assets through a Government Gazette without any input from a court of law.

That is my thesis right there. It really does not matter what Mawere’s crimes are until a judge certifies that he has committed such a crime, he must be presumed to be innocent. Secondly, again on a matter of procedure, there is no point in appointing Saruchera to investigate, if action against Mawere has already been finalised.

There is, however, a window of innocence, which government could have taken. The law specifically says that the assets of a specified person are held in trust until a determination has been made.

There is yet another procedural matter of great importance which suggests that the actors were prejudiced against Mawere a priori.

At least two important actors in this saga, Afaras Gwaradzimba, appointed as government administrator had previously been in some gainful association with Mawere. And so was the legal firm used to help decipher the problems of SMM. The parliamentary committee pointed this out and was appalled at the carelessness of government which made no attempt to appear to be fair and impartial.

To crown it all, in May 2010, Mawere was “despecified” and allowed to return to his homeland without fear of arrest. Yet, in spite of all this, his companies are still under government ownership. A Cabinet memo says that government is determined to find a Chinese investor for SMM.

Two of my informants, who held very senior positions in government, told me that when Mawere acquired the SMM assets, there was temporary rejoicing in Cabinet. However, serious reservations began to appear.

A genius, Mawere was not deferential towards ZANU-PF and its political apparatchiks. These stalwarts expected to be welcomed, entertained, and fawned upon whenever they visited. This, my Masvingo mentor told me is embedded in ubuntu culture. Mawere was accused of forgetting his roots, namely the liberation sacrifices they made on our behalf. Mawere has scolded me for this summation, arguing that it is a figment of my imagination.

Another accusation, repeated by Brother Patrick Zhuwao, years later, placed Mawere in the genre of speculative entrepreneurs. All investment is speculative in one way or another because one gambles in the belief that the wind will blow his way.

In the sense in which Brother Zhuwao used the term, it implies some imperialistic association that Mawere was a black face fronting for white interests.

Before SMM is sold to Chinese speculators, Mawere should be given an opportunity to recover his assets because it is right to do so.

Source : Financial Gazette