SOUTH African-based Zimbabwean tycoon Mutumwa Mawere says his business problems were caused by a Zanu PF faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa after he tried to block its front company, Smoothnest (Pvt) Ltd, from securing a loan from First Bank Corporation (FB
C) in which he had an interest.
In his first explanation of what went wrong between him and Mnangagwa, who was widely seen as his ally, Mawere this week said the seizure of his businesses started after he clashed with the Mnangagwa camp over the Smoothnest deal meant to raise funds for the Zanu PF national conference in Masvingo in December 2003.
He said he was punished for opposing the release by FBC of $1 billion to Smoothnest for the purchase of shares from a Zanu PF company, M&S Investments, to raise party funds.
Mawere, who last week accused the so-called Tsholotsho group in Zanu PF of instigating his woes, said the Mnangagwa faction reacted with a fierce backlash against him because Smoothnest was owned by ex-Labour minister and Zanu-PF provincial chairman July Moyo and prominent lawyer Edwin Manikai, seen as Mnangagwa’s lieutenants.
Although Manikai this week admitted he has an interest in Smoothnest, he denied any links to Mnangagwa’s camp. Manikai said Mawere’s allegations were “sour grapes”.
“Mawere is unscrupulous, greedy and vicious. But above all, he is a loser, a very bad loser and a cry baby,” Manikai said. “Mawere has messed himself up and is now blaming everyone for his problems. I have nothing against him but he must have a conscience.”
On the Smoothnest deal, Manikai said it was a tired story created by Mawere to try and get him into trouble.
Documents obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent when the Smoothnest dispute erupted three years ago reveal that the company applied for a loan from FBC in October 2003 to purchase 23 million shares owned by M&S from the then listed Southern Africa Reinsurance Company (Sare). Sare has since been taken over by FBC.
M&S Investments’ stake in Sare was at that time worth about $500 million but Smoothnest was offering to buy it at $875 million. The proceeds from the sale were used to finance the Zanu PF conference.
The documents show that the loan was fast-tracked because of Smoothnest’s links to Zanu PF. The FBC executive director at the time, Mberikwazvo Chitambo, wrote a strong supporting letter saying Smoothnest’s application should be given priority because of its links to Moyo.
“The names behind Smoothnest are Edwin Manikai and Mr (Patrice) Dhliwayo recently qualified as an engineer and man of straw,” wrote Chitambo. “Mr Dhliwayo represents the interest of Minister July Moyo and should be accorded that priority.”