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Zanu PF’s firms under spotlight

Dumisani Muleya

THE current probe of Zanu PF’s business empire is expected to lift the veil of secrecy over the party’s murky corporate affairs.

tica, sans-serif”>A report published in 2000 by South Africa’s Helen Suzman Foundation says Zanu PF has over the years not only become a strong political party but also a vast conglomerate controlling a chain of companies.

However, the ruling party’s business activities have been as opaque and controversial as its dictatorial rule has been repressive, the report says.

It points out that Zanu PF has never produced audited books for the past 20 years, except for one announcement in 1992 to the effect that its assets then were worth $486 million.

It says the men at the heart of the Zanu PF business empire have been the party’s current secretary for administration and Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi.

Mnangagwa in particular is identified as the key figure in the party’s business concerns. The report says he wielded influence as chairman of M&S Syndicate until the end of 1990.

It also says he was a director of Oporto Investments, Galant Distribution, Galhold Investments, Treasure Holdings and National Blankets.

The report says as treasurer of the party, Mnangagwa is said to have enjoyed considerable influence over other Zanu PF firms that include Zidco Holdings, Treger Holdings, Ottawa (a property management firm), Catercraft, Zidlee Enterprises, and First Banking Corporation.

The report also says the key figures in Zidco included members of the Joshi family. The Joshis, who reportedly fled the country last week after Zanu PF announced an investigation into its own companies’ finances, were said to have been brought into the party’s business network over 23 years ago.

The report says they were given a free rein to run Zanu PF businesses together with Mnangagwa because they had supported the ruling party in the struggle for Independence during the 1970s.

The report says Jayan Joshi gave Zanu PF financial assistance and scholarships to Britain from the guerrilla camps in Mozambique.

“After Independence (then Prime Minister Robert) Mugabe invited Jayan and his brother Manoo to run Zidco,” the report says. “Through their offices Rambhai Patel, a Kenyan Asian who now lives near Chislehurst in Kent, put up the equity capital for Zidco, of which he still owns 45%.”

The report says Patel owned the London-based Unicorn Export-Import which has shares in Zidco.

In 1984 he visited Zimbabwe and made a US$50 000 contribution to Zanu PF funds, the report says. Jayan Joshi’s daughter Heena is a close friend of the president’s wife, Grace, and sits on the board of Grace’s pet charity, the Children’s Rehabilitation Trust, the report says.

Having played a key role during the construction of the Harare International Airport, a project plagued by controversy, Heena left to join Oryx Diamonds.

This firm was formed in 2000 after Oryx Natural Resources bought Petra Diamonds and re-named it Oryx Diamonds – in which Zidco holds 237 000 shares, according to the report.

Efforts to contact Mnangagwa for comment this week were unsuccessful.

The government press announced on April 1 that Zanu PF’s politburo had set up a high-powered committee headed by the party’s secretary for finance David Karimanzira to take stock of the party’s portfolio of companies, investigate their financial operations, directorships, shareholding structures, business performance and benefits.

“The work of the committee is likely to spill beyond Zimbabwe’s borders as some of the companies are said to be international and registered elsewhere,” the official press said, pointing out that the move came against the background of a shake-up in the financial sector “in which a number of companies had been found on the wrong side of the law.”

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