PLANS to set up a cement-making factory in Zvishavane by the Chinese have hit a snag after it emerged that the mining rights in the area belong to Shabanie Mashaba Mines (Pvt) Ltd.
Top government sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week the project was supposed to be set up some 30 kilometres from the mineral-rich town of Zvishavane along the Zvishavane-Mbalabala road.
“The cement factory is one of the many deals that should be implemented with the Chinese after the President’s visit to China last year as well as negotiations between the Joint Zimbabwe-China Permanent Commission.
However, they (Chinese) can only set up the factory when the issue of mining claims to the area held by SMM has been resolved,” said one source.
This may delay the project as SMM is still the subject of an ownership wrangle between government and South African-based businessman Mutumwa Mawere.
Mawere took over control of the company in March 1996 only for it to be seized by government in 2005 in terms of the Reconstruction of State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act of 2004 and placed under the judicial management of Afaras Gwaradzimba.
The Zimbabwean businessman, now based in South Africa, has since filed a Constitutional Court application to regain control of the company.
Last week Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa professed ignorance on the deal saying, “I have not heard anything about it.”
This was despite reports from officials in the ministry indicating that there are plans to set up a plant not far from the Runde River and the mountain residence of the late businessman P. Hall who owned Shu Shine Bus Services.
The Chinese embassy had still not responded to questions sent to them on Tuesday morning.
The desperate Zimbabwean government has been actively seeking foreign direct investment to shore up its moribund economy, which has been hit hard by a liquidity crunch and low investor confidence due to confusion surrounding its indigenisation laws which compel foreigners to cede a 51% stake in their companies to black Zimbabweans.
Where there have been memorandums of understandings and agreements particularly with China and Russia, implementation has been hindered by bureaucratic bungling on the part of government or concerns about poor corporate governance in the partnering state enterprises and parastatals.