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How Mawere was despecified

A FEW months after Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was sworn in last year, he called for the return of Zimbabwe’s business “superstars”. 

Mutambara, who spoke as acting leader of government business in the house of assembly said: “We cannot succeed as a country if we are targeting our superstars, chasing them out of the country. How can we drive empowerment when some of the founders are on the run?”

Now, he must be blowing his own horn after authorities revoked specification of business tycoons ­­— Mutumwa Mawere and John Moxon and former Telecel Zimbabwe chairman James Makamba. 
But Mutambara’s pronouncements, though significant, had little to do with the lifting of the three businessmen’s specification orders.

According to information at hand, Mawere, who also attended South African President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration ceremony, met President Robert Mugabe last year. At the event, Mawere’s fortunes that had been on a freefall since 2004 when Mugabe’s government placed SMM Holdings under reconstruction, took a turn for the better.

Contrary to Mawere’s belief that Mugabe had instigated seizure of his assets, the aged leader lent Mawere an ear and assured him that he would look into his predicament.

In court affidavits, Mawere says Mugabe granted him a meeting the following day at the Sheraton Hotel in Johannesburg where he claims the Zimbabwean leader said staff from his office would be in regular contact as he wanted to get to the bottom of the matter.

A few days after the meeting, an unlikely person — Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe chief Gideon Gono — called Mawere acting on Mugabe’s instructions.

Again, Mawere must have been surprised by Gono’s keenness to help.
SMSs exchanged between the two in the days that followed show that there was mutual consent to get the “SMM saga” resolved.

Mawere says after Gono contacted him, he furnished him with documents allegedly showing the decision to expropriate his companies was improper.

From there, Gono and Mawere were on talking terms, with the central bank saying it had not lodged a complaint against the business tycoon or his companies.
In one SMS Gono said the decision to seize Mawere’s empire had been engendered by “misrepresentations and malice”.

He asked Mawere to leave the fight in his “small hands” and that of “His Execellency,” a specific reference to Mugabe.

According to Mawere’s affidavit, Gono held further meetings with Mugabe where the central bank chief claimed their view that Mawere had been wrongly treated was mutual.
In an earlier email, Gono exonerated himself from the “SMM saga” saying his bank had never lent money to Mawere’s companies.

Gono wrote: “I am very clear now. I was, neither waz the prez (aware) of these conflct of interests. Also perusal of extra documents reveals tht the state was on shacky ground frm word go.We neva complained as rbz tht SMM has failed 2 pay! Besides rbz neva lend 2 SMM bt to the banks! Hahaha! Dont wori its bn a long walk.U can count me on side. Bcoz its only just and fais 2 do so. Pse accept an apology frm me 4 any distress i may have bn said i caused tho my prez and me are now clear wht we seem 2 hav bn up gainst! Misrepresentations and malice bhind our baks! Gud day.”

Mawere came under government scrutiny after allegedly prejudicing the state of Z$300 billion in 2004.
While Mawere’s charm offensive seemed to be winning on Mugabe and Gono, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa was pushing ahead with a legal challenge. He only backed down after Gono intervened. Mawere in his affidavit claims Gwaradzimba is bent on ensuring his rights are not restored. But that was not the only setback Mawere would suffer.

Inside government, other equally powerful figures were flexing their muscles.

Mawere said at the time of the hearing of the matter, negotiations were “interrupted” by Gwaradzimba with the “support” of Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose “interest and involvement in the matter remains undefined”.

“If anything,” Mawere says, “the respondent (Chinamasa) was part of a Cabinet Committee appointed in the last government whose mandate ended with the implementation of the global political agreement.  What is significant is that there is no evidence of the inclusive government being involved in this matter.”

And then Gono wrote advisory notes to Mugabe. The first was favourable to Mawere, according to information at hand. Then he made an about turn in his second note.

A letter dated 21 August 2009 from Gono to Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa reads: “Annexeures C and D were intended as advisory brief to His Excellency the President, R G Mugabe and not for public consumption. The documents eventually found themselves into the public domain without clearance  to my embarrassment and that of the Bank.”

Gono says he met Mugabe, Chinamasa and SMM’s Arafus  Gwaradzimba on two occasions in June last year and obtained clarification and explanations on the status and history of the case.

“Following these vital consultations, I confirmed, as I do now, that my advisory briefs to His Excellency the President, dates May 14 2009 and June 23 2009 had been answered by the administrator and minister in front of the Head of State and that I had no other role to play in the case.

“This thus brought to an end my role and withdrawal of all my advisory notes which were then returned to me and the bank because all the matters that had been raised may have either been explained or were to be attended to, or would have been raised out of ignorance emanating from information gaps which only the parties to the case and or their legal representatives were privy to,” said Gono.

The inside story ends there with Gono practically washing his hands of the SMM issue.
“I accept,  and have always accepted,” Gono concedes, “that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs  is the responsible and mandated person to deal with the legal as well as the administrative matter pertaining to the application of the laws of administrator in Zimbabwe, including the administration of SMM.”


Chris Muronzi

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