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Seizure of assets raises host of issues

I REFER to your article “Mawere speaks on Mnangagwa fallout”, (Zimbabwe Independent, May 19).

The comments attributed to Mr Edwin Manikai confirm my worst fears that the government of Zimbabwe has been outsourced to individuals with ulterior motives. 

While I understand your interest in drawing Mnangagwa into my predicament, I find it unfortunate that you chose not to focus on the ramifications of what Manikai, as a principal in his own right, said. 

As background, you are aware that I was arrested in South Africa in May 2004 following an application by the government of Zimbabwe to extradite me on charges of externalisation and fraud.  At the time, I thought the allegations were informed by investigations undertaken by the government.  However, the charges were dismissed by a magistrate in June 2004 after the government of Zimbabwe failed to substantiate them. 

Notwithstanding the dismissal of the allegations in South Africa, I was subsequently specified under the Prevention of Corruption Act and all companies deemed to be under my control were also specified.  However, the specifications did not achieve the desired result of expropriating my assets and making me, in Manikai’s words, “a bad loser”. 

You will be aware that a presidential decree was promulgated by (Justice minister Patrick) Chinamasa in September 2004, paving the way for the takeover of my assets and the appointment of Mr (Arafas) Gwaradzimba as administrator and Manikai as the legal advisor. 

You will also be aware that this action was unprecedented in Zimbabwe whereby a decree was passed, targeted at one individual and the state machinery then used by well-connected individuals to undermine the property rights of another individual. 

To date, I have been the only victim of the State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act and the existence of this legislation threatens the rights of all Zimbabweans and hence my interest in writing this letter to ensure that all the people who have property interests in Zimbabwe are fully aware of the possibility that if they are deemed to be “unscrupulous, greedy and vicious”, they risk losing their properties. 

What is more scary is that if we assume that all the actions leading to the expropriation of my assets were done in the name of the state, a private individual like Manikai is allowed to claim credit without the public being afforded an opportunity to understand his authority and competency to represent the government. 

It appears that Manikai was allowed to ignore the central questions raised in your article about the link between Smoothnest and Zanu PF.  In addition, your article failed to address the apparent use of public funds to support Zanu PF’s political activities.  If the allegations are correct that Manikai was used by Zanu PF as a front to raise funds using a shelf company, what are the implications on corruption, and why has this matter not been investigated by an independent party? 

While Manikai’s footprints are in many places including ZSR, Zimsun, Smoothnest, First Bank, NDH, ZABG, Cottco, Finhold, Intermarket, Shabanie & Mashaba Mines (under state administration), it is not clear what his role is in respect of Zanu PF.  It is important that the public is informed about the role of Manikai in Zanu PF and his interest in my affairs. 

I am still to be advised about the ethical implications of a lawyer making defamatory statements about me, particularly in view of the fact that he is the chief legal officer representing the government of Zimbabwe and SMM in the contested expropriation of my assets. 

To the extent that the application to set aside the reconstruction order is still pending before the High Court of Zimbabwe, it is important that you put the statement by Manikai “above all, he is a loser, a very bad loser and a cry baby” into context.

In what way am I a loser if the matter has not been determined in court? What does Manikai know that the public does not know about the merits of my application to set aside the reconstruction scheme? 

It is important also to inform your readers that Manikai is now representing Chinamasa in the legal proceedings after the Attorney-General refused to represent the minister on grounds that the reconstruction order was issued without merit. 

While I respect Manikai’s personal views about my character, it is unacceptable that as a lawyer he accepts the proposition that an alleged greedy person has no constitutional rights in Zimbabwe. 

If one were to accept that Manikai is somewhat connected to the Tsholotsho group, it is important to locate his comments within the general framework of the actions of the state.  If we accept the proposition that individuals can settle their personal scores using the state machinery then Zimbabwe is in real danger of reducing itself to a banana republic. 

If anything, Manikai’s comments confirm that Zimbabwe is no longer a country that respects property rights and acknowledges the fact that corruption only applies where Zanu PF is not an interested party. 

I believe that it is in the national interest that this matter be exhaustively debated in order to protect the integrity of the institutions of government and to ensure that individuals are protected from the abuse of power by those that are well-connected.  

It is not for me to say whether Manikai has any links with Mnangagwa, but it is important to establish in what context Manikai would make the allegations that I had “sour grapes” when he has nothing to benefit from my persecution. 

Manikai also makes the allegation that I have messed myself up without explaining the relevance and how the state becomes an interested party in my personal affairs. 

He further makes the statement that “I have nothing against him but he must have a conscience”. 

It is important that you establish how my conscience becomes material in the construction of the state’s actions against me personally and against companies alleged to be owned by me. 

If Manikai has strong personal views against me, is it justifiable that he becomes a professional advisor to the government?

It would also be of interest to establish who appointed Manikai and whose interests he is serving by targeting me for what appears to be personal reasons.

I sincerely hope that you will publish my letter not only because the expropriation of my assets raises a host of legal, constitutional and empowerment issues, but it has political and personal dimensions that have to be exposed in the hope that future generations will be protected from the actions of a government that has lost direction and moral compass. 

Mutumwa Mawere,
South Africa.

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