HomePoliticsZanu PF hounds Bredenkamp

Zanu PF hounds Bredenkamp

CONTROVERSIAL tycoon John Breden-kamp has become the latest victim of Zanu PF’s depredations following raids on his business empire this week after a major fallout with ruling party heavyweights fighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe, it has been learnt.


said Bredenkamp had clashed with Zanu PF leaders, including his erstwhile ally Emmerson Mnangagwa, over mineral deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The situation was worsened by links to one of Zanu PF’s factions battling to win a long-running succession struggle. Bredenkamp was cited as a financier of the Mnangagwa faction despite the recent fallout in a report allegedly compiled for Mugabe by former State Security minister Nicholas Goche in the wake of the Tsholotsho affair in November 2004.

It was alleged he had provided billions of dollars to fund Mnangagwa’s campaign to become vice-president and eventually succeed Mugabe. Although Bredenkamp has denied the claims, senior Zanu PF officials, in particular from the faction led by retired army commander, General Solomon Mujuru, continue to view him with suspicion.

The magnate also had a high-profile clash with Mnangagwa — the politician who made the businessman’s return to Zimbabwe in 1982 possible — over mineral concessions in the DRC. Mugabe is said to have been invariably suspicious of him after his role in propping up the Smith regime through sanctions-busting measures.

This situation, sources said, left Bredenkamp vulnerable to political attacks by warring Zanu PF officials who feel he has now outlived his usefulness in their power play. Insiders say this week’s raid on his companies reflects a loss of support in the party underlined by efforts to seize his businesses the same way South African-based local businessman Mutumwa Mawere lost his empire.

Zanu PF appears to be uncomfortable with businessmen who make their fortune outside their patronage network or those who use it to make money and then try to play clean.

Bredenkamp, a controversial international investor rated the United Kingdom’s 33rd richest citizen in 2003, was raided on Monday by police seeking to investigate cases said to be linked to economic sabotage. This reportedly involved the flouting of exchange control regulations.

He is also being investigated for carrying a Zimbabwean passport, another from South Africa and a third from the Netherlands.

Breco Group, Bredenkamp’s investment vehicle, confirmed in a statement yesterday that the tycoon left Zimbabwe on Tuesday. They however denied that he had fled the country as reported in the government media on Wednesday. The statement said he had “left for South Africa on a pre-arranged visit to his medical practitioners following which he departed to the United Kingdom for a business trip”.

Bredenkamp’s association with Zanu PF and in particular Mnangagwa dates back to the 1980s. Mnangagwa, then State Security minister in the early 1980s, and Mugabe’s first press secretary, Costa Pafitis, now corporate and public affairs director of Breco, negotiated Bredenkamp’s return to Zimbabwe in 1982 after he was declared persona non grata at Independence in 1980 for helping to sustain the Smith regime by sanctions-busting. The return was granted on condition that he would invest in Zimbabwe.

He proceeded to donate funds towards the construction of the Zanu PF headquarters. Mnangagwa and Bredenkamp became close as a result until the acrimonious DRC fallout.

Once involved with the financial affairs of the Rhodesian Defence Forces, Bredenkamp was involved in sanctions-busting in return for a highly lucrative concession to export tobacco from Rhodesia. He went on to turn his company, Casalee, into a multi-million pound empire with offices around the world, including Windsor in the UK.

Casalee’s business dealings were often rocked by controversy. In the early 1990s, Casalee acted as an intermediary in the sale of anti-personnel mines to Iraq. At the height of the fuel crisis in 2000, Bredenkamp, through a company called Zimalzam, offered to provide fuel by rail from South Africa. The deal went sour and led to a flurry of allegations of deliberately inflated tenders.

Bredenkamp told the Zimbabwe Independent in 2004 he did not give Mnangagwa any money towards his campaign to become vice-president. Mnangagwa has also said Bredenkamp did not fund him. He said he only received gifts at his daughter’s wedding held at the tycoon’s Borrowdale Brooke Golf Course in October 2004.

Sources said Mnangagwa fell out with Bredenkamp after the Zanu PF politician assisted another local controversial businessman, Billy Rautenbach, to retain cobalt and copper mining concessions in the DRC in 2001.

Rautenbach, founder of transport giant Wheels of Africa, is now said to have replaced Bredenkamp as Mnangagwa’s confidant. Sources said the money, which according to Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo “exchanged hands” in Tsholotsho, came from “DRC quarters”. — Staff Writers

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