Business mogul Mutumwa Mawere on Monday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy the events that led to his specification and grabbing of his business empire were tantamount to commercial violence.
Mawere accused the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa of using the legal system which he presided over to plunder his companies while he could not defend himself as a specified person.
As the business magnate presented his case, Chinamasa was making last-minute efforts to scuttle Mawere’s hearing from taking place on the grounds that it was an issue before the courts and therefore sub judice hence it could not be discussed in Parliament.
In a letter to the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma and copied to the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, Chinamasa apparently tried to block the committee from getting oral evidence from Mawere.
According to the source, it appeared that Chinamasa lost timing as he thought the hearing would be in the afternoon hence he had delivered the letter on Monday afternoon.
As a result, the letter came too late because the hearing took place in the morning, before the letter was delivered to Parliament.
Curiously, Chinamasa has been issuing press statements claiming Mawere was no longer a shareholder in SMM Holdings, an issue that the business magnate disputed before the committee.
“You saw the adverts by the minister where he said Mawere was not a shareholder of SMM Holdings,” said Mawere. “The Constitution says you cannot deprive someone of their companies.”
Mawere was giving evidence to the Edward Chindori-Chininga-led Mines and Energy Committee to allow Parliament to familiarise itself with the background of the legal issues that led to the annexation of his business empire.
“I do not think the Reconstruction Act should be applied on a de-specified person,” said Mawere.
“I do not think the Act was meant to allow government to take the assets of a de-specified person.”
The State- Indebted Insolvency Companies Act, the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, Mawere said, were used to fraudulently wrest his companies from him.
“That is how the two Acts were used to deprive me of my properties. Today people do not even know that the law prevents me from going to the mines.
Even if you are an administrator, you cannot be appointed by someone who is an interested party,” said Mawere.
Mawere said taking assets from someone who had been de-specified was tantamount to robbing an “amputated” person of furniture in their house.
“If you look at the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is very clear that it does not allow someone to go and take your furniture while you are amputated,” he said.
He said he would hold the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is responsible for administering the Act, accountable for allowing government to take over his resources.
The Reconstruction Act, he said, was an instrument which was used to “steal” his companies as he had never been indebted to government, but had been indebted to companies like Zesa and Zimra.
“If you look at the statement prepared by the curator, Afaras Gwaradzimba, it shows that it is companies like Zesa, Zimra, MMCZ and NSSA that were the creditors, but the state assumed the debt and placed SMM Holdings under an administrator.
Such laws do not exist anywhere else in the world.”
Mawere said the acceptable situation was that he was supposed to deal with the issue of debt with the companies involved and not with government as it was only a ploy to take over his companies.
“If we have a dispute, the two of us are equal and have to go to a tribunal.
However, if this law permits the Executive to be a court, I now find myself not before a court, but before a minister who now says I owe the state,” said Mawere.
He continued: “It is actually for the courts to determine whether a company cannot pay debts, but in the case of SMM Holdings the judge became Chinamasa, he became administrator and everything.”