BUSINESS tycoon Mutumwa Mawere’s fight to wrestle back the ownership of Shabanie Mashaba Mines Holdings (SMMH) from government is getting fiercer with the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy yesterday saying they will summon Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to appear before them to explain how the state took over the multi-million dollar company.
SMMH was placed under administration in 2004 through a statutory instrument for the Reconstruction of State-Indebted and Insolvent Companies. The company then owed various state firms a combined $800 billion Zimbabwe dollars. Accountant Arafas Gwaradzimba was appointed administrator of SMMH and all companies related to it.
Edward Chindori-Chininga, Mines and Energy parliamentary portfolio committee chairman, yesterday said Chinamasa would be summonsed to appear before the committee to explain the reconstruction of Mawere’s companies and the way forward.
“We are trying to bring the matter of SMM to its logical conclusion,” Chindori-Chininga said. “To that end, after we received evidence from Mutumwa Mawere on Monday, we resolved to have the minister come and present his side of the story. The committee tentatively expects this to happen before the end of the year.”
He added that his committee expected Chinamasa to exhibit the same zeal he showed when he brought a report before the committee from Gwaradzimba on developments at the mines and other companies linked to Mawere earlier this year.
“We are only motivated by the need to have the mines operational again, to save employment and to stop the imports of asbestos from Russia,” Chindori-Chininga said. “The economy should recover through using the capacity we have.”
On Monday, Chinamasa tried in vain to block Mawere, who was recently de-specified, from giving evidence to the committee arguing that the SMMH saga was sub judice as it was before the courts.
In his evidence to the committee, Mawere alleged that Chinamasa and his cabal were interested in stripping him of his properties. He claimed that the minister acted without the knowledge of President Robert Mugabe or his cabinet when he issued the reconstruction order.
“The president was not aware of this,” charged Mawere. “I asked him (Mugabe) if he knew Zimbabwe had such a law. He said that it didn’t have. I suspect it is a small group working on this. They did not communicate this and even parliament may not have the information. His first assignment was to get SMMH share certificates. Without these share certificates everything Chinamasa has done is illegal.”
The business mogul questioned Chinamasa’s actions which he equated to commercial violence and his state of mind when he issued the reconstruction order.
“This was purely commercial violence. It is very unusual for a minister of Justice to make a defamatory allegation against someone. The first thing is to ask Chinamasa what was his frame of mind when he did all this,” he said.
Mawere also took a pot-shot at MPs for passing legislation which he deemed anti-investment and allowed lawyers using government offices to deceive and plunder other people’s wealth as what has happened in the last 30 years.
“Why should parliament pass a law that criminalises one having a debt with state enterprises? You should understand the law serves no purpose. It is a threat to you and not me because your property can be taken away because you owe Zesa or TelOne,” Mawere said.
He suggested that parliament should take stock of what happened in the last 30 years as something has gone fundamentally wrong when legislation against economic development like Reconstruction of State- Indebted Companies Act is used to strip investors of their companies.
Meanwhile, Clerk of parliament Austin Zvoma said Chinamasa’s attempt to block Mawere from giving evidence before a parliamentary committee may have been a result of personal motive.
“It is a matter of record that I shared with you my contrary interpretation on the application of the parliamentary sub judice rules when you telephoned me in the morning on the matter,” Zvoma wrote to Chinamasa on Wednesday. “It is not immediately clear whether you refer to the parliamentary sub judice rule or that rule in general. Be that as it may, I respectfully disagree with you on this matter. One fails to understand your motive for communicating through the press and even before the addressees have responded.”
Zvoma further quoted a British judge to show that justice should not be shrouded in secrecy.
“Lord Atkin remarked thus: ‘Justice is not a cloistered virtue: she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men’,” he added.