PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has refused to intervene to save self-exiled tycoon Mutumwa Mawere’s collapsing empire, which has now been seized by government.
Mugabe ignored the appeal by the South African-based Mawere for him to get involved and stop the imminent nationalisation of his companies, now the subject of a court action.
Mawere had written a letter to Mugabe in June last year after his arrest in South Africa on externalisation allegations, pleading for dialogue to stop a looming grab of his firms.
However, Mugabe did not reply to the letter, which Mawere wrote as a last resort to avoid company confiscations. Mawere confirmed yesterday he did not get any response from Mugabe. “I did not get any reply,” he said.
Instead of help from Mugabe, Mawere got an intensification of arbitrary seizures of his properties by government.
Mawere’s Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) Holdings, owned by the British Virgin Islands-incorporated Africa Resources Ltd, was last year put under state administration.
This week government ordered that all other companies technically linked to Mawere’s empire be put under state-control, a move which spells ruin for the businessman.
After his arrest, Mawere wrote to Mugabe about his dilemma, which was a harbinger of worse things to come.
“I understand that my current predicament is a cause for celebration by a
number of people who believe that I am not grateful for the support rendered to the companies that I am associated with by the government,” Mawere said.
“The unfortunate thing is that I have tried in vain to present my own side to you. Against this background, I have decided to put my thoughts in writing to you so that you can get my perspective.”
Mugabe ignored the letter.
SMM was placed under state management in terms of the Presidential Powers Regulation and Mawere was specified in terms of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The effect of this was that all assets owned by SMM and Mawere were frozen. However, SMM and Mawere are contesting the moves in the courts, saying they are patently unlawful.
Mawere’s business interests spanned mining, financial services, including banking and insurance, and industrial operations. He was regarded as one of the richest businessmen in Zimbabwe and a symbol of the success of government’s ill-defined black empowerment programme.
Mawere blames Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono for masterminding his downfall, a charge Gono has vehemently denied. The two traded heated exchanges in the Zimbabwe Independent last week after Mawere accused Gono of dealing in the foreign currency black market and trying to rip off one of his companies of millions in a US$2 million oil deal in 2000. Gono denied the charges.
Mawere, who has forfeited his Zimbabwean citizenship after acquiring South African nationality, was last year accused of salting away $300 billion and authorities claim he is a fugitive. He denies the allegations.
In the letter to Mugabe, Mawere said: “I have nothing to hide or run away from.” Mawere was arrested in South Africa last year on externalisation allegations but Zimbabwean authorities failed to sustain the charges.