TAP (Zambia) Ltd, a subsidiary of Africa Resources Ltd (ARL) in which exiled Zimbabwean tycoon Mutumwa Mawere is the ultimate shareholder, is intensifying efforts to recover about US$700 000 collected by SMM Holdings (Pvt) Ltd administrator Arafas Gwaradzimba.
The move will add to growing pressure on Gwaradzimba to return Mawereâ€™s companies, some of which have been sold under unclear circumstances.
The latest move will help expose murky management of ARL and SMM affairs. It is also likely to increase calls for a parliamentary investigation into the saga which has drawn in President Robert Mugabe, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and many other players lurking in the background. There are ongoing talks at the highest level of government to resolve the issue.
Mugabe and Gono want Mawere to get back his assets as part of the process to close the chapter of lawlessness and company seizures, while Chinamasa, Mnangagwa and Gwaradzimba have said the courts should decide the fate of the company.
Gwaradzimba is getting a staggering 6% of gross SMM proceeds and earns more than shareholders. SMM used to generate US$400 million annually.
While all the other players have defined interests in the issue, it is not clear how Mnangagwa comes in.
TAP has been persistently pushing to recover its monies from Gwaradzimba. Â
Kaleb Robinson Zulu, TAP chairman, wrote a letter on March 23 to Finance minister Tendai Biti asking for assistance to recover the funds taken by Gwradzimba.
The letter, also copied to Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube and his Regional Integration and International Cooperation counterpart Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, asked Biti to help TAP to recover a sum of US$698 688,75 from Gwaradzimba which he took in his capacity as a government agent after being appointed SMM administrator.
Although ARL and SMM have no direct corporate structural connection, Mawere is the ultimate shareholder of both of them.
The letter said after he was appointed SMM administrator via a presidential powers-designed instrument, Gwaradzimba arrived in Zambia and assumed â€œcontrol, management and all plenary powers of shareholders, directors and officials of TAP Building Products Ltd with effect of 30 January 2006â€.
Substantive TAP shareholders however fought Gwaradzimba in the Zambian Supreme Court and won in a ruling on June 13 2008, restoring their rights and control of the company.
But by that time Gwaradzimba had managed to extract about US$700 000 from TAP.
â€œTAP Zambia Ltdâ€™s operations have been adversely affected by the extraction of funds by the administrator,â€ the letter says. â€œWe humbly seek your assistance and advice in the recovery of these funds given that Mr AM Gwaradzimba was acting as an agent of the Zimbabwe government.â€
Former SMM chairman William Mudekunye was in Zambia two weeks ago in a bid to recover the US$700 000. He met government officials and TAP board members.Â Â
Documents show Gwaradzimbaâ€™s company, AMG Global, was paid US$345 829, 98, Mulenga Mundashi and Company, a law firm which worked closely with SMM lawyers in Zimbabwe US$127 346, 10, board members US$111 679,11 in fees, board membersâ€™ accommodation and flight tickets $25 639, 27, and auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers US$89 594,29, bringing the total amount to US$700 088,75.
BY DUMISANI MULEYA Â Â Â