Gwaradzimba, who was appointed by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa in 2004, is accused of uttering statements that demeaned the integrity of parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy in an interview with NewsDay in March 2011.
Gwaradzimba and Chinamasa have over the past two years failed to provide documentation to parliament proving the government ownership of SMMH share warrants. Speculation is rife that the decision to deprive Mawere of his companies was political.
It is said Mawere lost his empire after falling out with Defence minister Enmmerson Mnangagwa and his powerful Zanu PF faction to which Chinamasa belongs. A source close to Zanu PF said Mawere was a victim of factionalism within the party, pitting Mnangagwa and Vice-President Joice Mujuru although his demise was linked to clashes with former allies in the camp led by the former.
“Mawere courted the ire of the Mnangagwa faction when he snubbed the provincial chairmanship’s post of Masvingo after he was invited and was also seen as being greedy having refused to accept other indigenous partners into the SMMH deal which was a model indigenisation project,” the source said.
The sources said Mawere’s problems should be seen in the context of Zanu PF power struggles which have a nexus with President Robert Mugabe’s succession and money.
“The issue is about power, money and influence and Mawere is caught up in that web,” a senior Zanu PF official said. “If you look closely, it’s the Mnangagwa faction which is running the show around SMMH and Mawere is victim of power politics, greed and revenge.”
However, Mawere has over the years steadfastly refused to comment on the politics behind the expropriation of his empire whenever approached by the media. Gwaradzimba, through his lawyer Simplisius Chihambakwe, denied the charges of denigrating parliament on Tuesday when he appeared before the Privileges and Immunity Committee chaired by Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu PF).
The other members in the five-member committee are Jessie Majome and Shepherd Mushonga (MDC-T), Patrick Dube (MDC) and Joram Gumbo, also (Zanu PF).
Gwaradzimba, who was accused of showing contempt to parliament, appeared with his lawyer before the committee. The proceedings did not last long as Chihambakwe asked for all the evidence to be used against his client and a list of witnesses.
Mnangagwa was initially nominated onto the committee but recused himself after speculation surrounding his conflict of interest surfaced. Mnangagwa was widely believed to be Mawere’s political godfather before they fell out.
Chinamasa last year conceded before parliament that the matter could only be solved out of court if Mugabe personally ordered him to do so.
“If the president calls me and says do this, I will do it without question. In the circumstances, the finalisation of the matter in the courts (in my favour) would give me a stronger standing and push me to present a new position,” Chinamasa said.
Chinamasa’s position flies in the face of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s advice to Mugabe that SMMH ownership should be restored to Mawere. Mugabe and Gono tried to help Mawere after the president held discussions over the matter with former South African president Thabo Mbeki. Mawere had approached Mbeki for help, who in turn raised the issue with Mugabe.
Despite Mugabe and Gono’s push to have Mawere given back his companies and assets, Chinamasa, apparently with the backing of Mnangagwa, fiercely resisted.
Chinamasa later defiantly told parliament that the matter would only be resolved by the courts. “There is no way we will settle. Let the courts decide,” Chinamasa declared.
“Thereafter, we will sit and discuss. It’s too late in the day after 25 case-sittings and we are not agreed on who is culpable for the mines’ demise.”
Mawere, who has since been de-specified by the Home Affairs co-ministers, last year, went on the diplomatic offensive to regain his empire from the state. In December 2011, he wrote to the British ambassador to Zimbabwe Deborah Bronnert and copied the letter to the South African embassy in Harare seeking their help to re-claim his businesses from the Zimbabwean government.
Mawere argues government acted illegally by trying to apply its laws extra-territorially since SMMH is a British-registered company and could not be arbitrarily taken over without involving British courts.
Parliament is expected to call Mines and Energy committee chairperson Edward Chindori-Chininga and NewsDay reporter Veneranda Langa as witnesses on May 2 2012 when the case resumes. Langa interviewed Gwaradzimba when he made remarks which allegedly denigrate parliament.