Two Zanu PF factions in Masvingo are headed for a showdown in the battle to take over control of Zimbabwe’s sole lithium producer, Bikita Minerals.
War collaborators belonging to one of the feuding Zanu PF factions on Tuesday demanded 40% in the world’s largest petalite deposits whose major shareholder is Zanu PF politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire, threatening the smooth running of operations at one of the country’s top foreign currency-earning mining entities.
But the Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators’ Association members have threatened to unseat Mavhaire in the mining venture.
The war collaborators are reportedly aligned to a faction linked to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, while Mavhaire is allegedly the Masvingo provincial godfather of the retired army general Solomon Mujuru-led faction.
The Mujuru faction formerly enjoyed unquestionable hegemony through Mavhaire in the province but of late, Mnangagwa’s faction has reportedly regained control.
“We want 40% shares and Mavhaire must remain with 11%,” the association’s district chairperson, Godfrey Murire, said. “How can one person have so much control? We need to share. We want to meet Mavhaire in the mine’s boardroom in a week’s time and discuss that.”
Murire said war collaborators in the district had planned a meeting with Mavhaire to discuss how the major shareholder could cede part of his shareholding.
“We feel the surrounding areas and the people in Bikita should benefit, and not only one person,” he said.
But Mavhaire, who pleaded with NewsDay not to go ahead with publishing the story, questioned why the collaborators had targeted Bikita Minerals only when there were other mines in the province.
“Bikita Minerals has already been indigenised,” Mavhaire said. “Why Bikita Minerals only when there is Renco Mine and Triangle, among other corporates? It reflects their foolishness. Do they have the money to buy the shares? Do they even know how to buy the shares?”
Mavhaire refused to disclose his shareholding, but confirmed he is the major shareholder.
Insiders said the Mnangagwa faction was pushing the war collaborators to oust Mavhaire from the mine.
“The Zanu PF factions in Masvingo are in a fierce battle for the mine but the real people behind the fight are not the war collaborators. The war collaborators’ sentiments are not theirs. They have been sent. They do not want Mavhaire who is the ringleader of the Mujuru faction in Masvingo,” the Zanu PF source said.
Last year, the faction tried to wrest the mine under the pretext of indigenisation and allegedly masterminded the kidnapping of the mine manager Ronnie MacPhail and three other senior managers.
The youths were subsequently jailed for eight months each by a local magistrates’ court early this year.