The SMM Holdings saga has taken a new twist as business magnate Mutumwa Mawere has written to President Robert Mugabe in an effort to resolve the controversial take-over of his business empire through a reconstruction order believed to have been fraudulently acquired.
This follows reports the decision to place SMM under reconstruction was ill-advised, unconstitutional, and therefore fraudulent.
It also emerged yesterday that the President responded by summoning Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa last Tuesday, soon after a Cabinet meeting, to explain the circumstances surrounding the annexation of SMM.
Mawere’s letter to President Mugabe was copied to Vice-Presidents John Nkomo and Joice Mujuru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Ministers Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara, Finance minister Tendai Biti, Chinamasa and Home Affairs co-ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone, as well as Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
Although no comment could be obtained from Presidential spokesman George Charamba as his mobile phone was not being answered, highly-placed sources confirmed President Mugabe was seized with the matter.
Efforts to get comments from Chinamasa and Gono were also fruitless on Sunday night.
However, part of the letter reads:
“I hope you will be able to review this matter and allow the facts to be exposed in the national interest. Already, the statements by Chinamasa only serve to undermine the credibility and integrity of the administration that you are heading.
“It is in the interest of justice and equity that I am also allowed to present my side of the story. This is the third time that Chinamasa has chosen to use the media to communicate defamatory and malicious statements about my companies and me.”
On Sunday, insiders said it was in the national interest that the legal and factual issues pertaining to SMM and Mawere’s specification be unpacked to restore the confidence of many non-resident Zimbabweans that their rights and interests were secure.
Mawere said: “I would expect Chinamasa at the very least to be factual and objective in his approach to any national issue that is communicated to the public on behalf of the state.
Regrettably, his actions and conduct to date have not been informed by facts and respect of the law.
“I must state that the SMM matter raises a number of legal, constitutional, commercial and political issues that have attracted the attention of the general public. No facts have been presented to date how the company became indebted to the state and, if this was the case, why the state would choose to enact new laws and use new instruments to protect its rights as a bona fide creditor,” Mawere said.
The business tycoon said Chinamasa was aware that any creditor, including the state, would not need to engage in self-help activities and rely on enacting new laws to regulate the affairs of companies retrospectively.
“I am advised that no law should have retrospective application. This raises a number of questions such as: Why would SMM not be treated like any other commercial company? Why would the government need to invoke emergency powers conferred on the President to deal with emergency powers in a matter involving claims against SMM’s trading partners? Whose interests are really at play here?” he said.
The businessman said it was factually and legally wrong that the SMM scheme was approved as required by law and more importantly that AMG and government were direct or indirect shareholders of SMM.
It was also misleading and mischievous to suggest that AMG and government own SMM in any way and significantly that the scheme of reconstruction was approved as required by law, he argued.
“If there was any doubt about the motives behind issuing the warrant of arrest and my specification, then the attempt to steal my assets through borrowing state powers makes it abundantly clear.
This undermines the rule of law and the general credibility of the state,” he said.
Mawere attacked Chinamasa for reportedly hiding behind legal issues that had nothing to do with the alleged illegal and predatory manner in which he had conducted himself in the SMM matter.
He also took a swipe at government-appointed SMM administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba indicating he perpetrated fraud by proceeding to have the reconstruction scheme confirmed by a judge well knowing that such a scheme was not approved by shareholders.
Asked to comment on Gwaradzimba’s position on the SMM saga, Mawere said: “Gwaradzimba is a creature of statute.
His relevance to SMM is a direct consequence of an unjust law that remains regrettably on the statute.
“If SMM was state-indebted then surely the state did not need to manufacture a new piece of legislation to assert its rights. Any bona fide creditor does not need the assistance of laws that did not exist when the credit was purportedly advanced.”
The Reserve Bank has denied that SMM was indebted to the state in respect of the productive sector facilities advanced by various commercial banks to SMM.
Zesa, too, went on record saying it did not require the assistance of the state to collect any debts incurred in the ordinary course of business.