Zanu PF bigwigs renew fights over companies

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A renewed fight over the mismanagement, looting and collapse of Zanu PF’s business empire looms as the issue is now being resurrected as part of President Robert Mugabe’s succession war.

Owen Gagare

Zanu PF and police sources say there have been efforts by some party leaders to revive the issue and even report cases of suspected fraud to the police.

As senior Zanu PF officials fight over Mugabe’s succession, accusations of mismanagement and corruption against each other have become part of political weapons being deployed to destroy reputations.

Zanu PF is split between a faction led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the G40 faction, which has coalesced around First Lady Grace Mugabe but is pushing for Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi to become president.

An investigation into the party’s business empire could leave Mnangagwa in a difficult position as he was in charge of business operations when the companies collapsed.

A senior Zanu PF official told the Zimbabwe Independent this week there were efforts to rope in the police so that they could investigate how the companies crumbled.

“Mhosva hairove (you cannot run away from justice). The issues will come up sooner rather than later,” said the official.

A Zanu PF’s Report of the Committee on Party Investments, debated by the politburo on July 27 2005 and August 3 2005, revealed the companies, supervised by Mnangagwa who was then administration secretary, were a shambles due to gross mismanagement and corruption.

The probe team comprised chairman David Karimanzira, the late retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru, Obert Mpofu, Simba Makoni and Thokozile Mathuthu.

The report said the companies were a mess and riddled with managerial corruption and incompetence which could have prejudiced the ruling party of billions of dollars and assets.

It said some of the companies had virtually collapsed, while others had not been audited for years and their financial accounts were a complete mess.

During mid-2005, the official exchange rate was US$1:Z$38, although on the black market it was US$1:Z$10 000.
A Z$650 million Tregers Holdings cheque for dividend declared on February 18 2003 for the year ended December 31 2002 could not be accounted for.

The report said it was “inconceivable” that Tregers, in which Zanu PF had 41,96% shareholding, managed to declare a Z$1,2 billion dividend in four years when its annual turnover was about Z$150 billion.

There were queries over the murky investment of Z$120 million in the portfolio investment company M&S Investments by Zanu PF’s wholly owned investment arm, M&S Syndicate (Pvt) Ltd.

Zanu PF had interests in public and private companies held through M&S Syndicate (Pvt) Ltd. The ruling party had invested in Treger Holdings, Mike Appel, Catercraft, Fibrolite, which closed in December 2004 as well as Zidlee, which failed to take over Delta in 1989.

The party also had interests in Southern African Re-Insurance Company (Sare), Zidco Holdings and First Bank, whose Congo investment also collapsed.

The report said another company, NamZim, was “closed due to mismanagement and the property was looted by unknown people”.

Zanu PF also had interests in National Blankets, Woolworths and Ottawa Building, which were disposed of in unclear circumstances.

Furthermore, Zanu PF separately owned Jongwe Printing & Publishing Company, as well as Jongwe and Nyadzonya farms. Some companies’ books, for instance those of Catercraft, were not audited for four years while there were no board meetings for two years.

Mnangagwa, who was interviewed twice by the probe committee because he held sway over the party’s network of companies, confirmed the chaos in the businesses by admitting most of the companies had no records.

“He (Mnangagwa) said that in most of these arrangements there were no written agreements on the formation of the companies and most of these agreements were done verbally between parties,” the report said.

“Neither was there an agreement for payment of management fees to the Joshi brothers as these companies were operating as one.”

Mnangagwa sat on nearly all companies’ boards, supervised M&S Syndicate with Manharlal Chiunilal and Jayant Chiunilal Joshi. The two were linked to Zanu PF by the party’s external secretary Didymus Mutasa and former secretary-general Edgar Tekere in 1979.

The Joshi brothers and Dipak Pandya fled the country shortly after the probe began. Several Zanu PF officials were quizzed about their escape. Mutasa said the three ran way from being arrested and were in regular contact with him. He said Jayant was believed to be in Dubai, while Manharlal was in Manchester, England.

Some of the Zanu PF investments such as in Bindura Nickel Mine were also unclear. Zanu PF had a 23% equity in Bindura through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Further inquiries into this investment were recommended.

There are also fears that companies like Tregers could have externalised funds.

As a result, the report recommended that “police/law enforcements agents should go into further investigations in order establish any prejudice in terms of revenue to the party on its investments”.

More investigations were required into the shady M&S Z$120 million investment, Fibrolite and Catercraft operations, the unaccounted for Z$650 million Tregers dividend and other dividends declared without audited accounts, as well as Mike Appel’s dividend declarations.

The report said it was surprising Mike Appel declared a Z$31 million dividend in 2003 but Z$250 million in 2005. Sare and shelf companies like M&S Investments, Segmented Investments through which Zanu PF had a 27% interest in First Bank, and Smoothnest Investments, Hutsonville and Amelia Properties, the report said, should also be further investigated.

There were also calls for the committee to find out if Zanu PF had interests in Africa Resources, Banco Nationale of Mozambique, DRC Bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Shabanie and Mashaba Mines.

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