Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa is expected to appear before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy on Monday to give oral evidence regarding the Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) Holdings fiasco.
The Mines committee, chaired by Guruve South MP, Edward Chindori-Chininga, has been keen to quiz Chinamasa on how business mogul Mutumwa Mawere lost his mining empire and was declared insolvent while his companies were placed under a curator, Afaras Gwaradzimba.
When Mawere appeared before the Mines committee, he told them that the events that led to him being stripped of his businesses were tantamount to “commercial violence”.
He said the State Indebted Insolvency Companies Act and the Reconstruction of State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act were illegally used to fraudulently wrest his companies from him.
“That is how the two Acts were used to deprive me of my properties,” said Mawere.
“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.”
Mawere told the committee that the way his companies were annexed was “like taking furniture from a helpless person whose arms had been amputated” since this was done during the time he had been declared a specified person.
He said the way the laws were applied in the case of SMM Holdings had never been witnessed anywhere else in the world and that Zimbabwe should be wary of how its pieces of legislation were being abused because the same thing could also happen to someone else.
When the Mines committee summoned Chinamasa to appear before them, the Justice minister gave excuses that he would not be able to give oral evidence before them three times.
The last time Chinamasa was supposed to appear before the Mines committee on December 12, chairman of the committee Chindori-Chininga warned Parliament would take action against him if he failed to appear to give oral evidence on Monday.
“We got confirmation from the Speaker’s side that the Deputy Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, had confirmed he had a meeting with Chinamasa who called for the postponement of the hearing,” said Chindori-Chininga.
“The committee met and discussed the matter and resolved a letter will be written to the minister advising him that first, we do not appreciate the fact that there was any confirmation in writing submitted to the committee through the Clerk, requesting for postponement of the hearing,” he said.
Chindori-Chininga had warned if Chinamasa failed to appear after three requests, then the committee would take necessary measures to ensure he appeared on Monday.
He said the SMM Holdings case was a serious economic issue and it was imperative for Chinamasa to appear before the committee to give his side of the story.
The SMM Holdings saga attracted a lot of interest in business and political circles, with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington Chibebe in November last year demanding that Gwaradzimba step down from the post of SMM Holdings curator.
Chibebe said Gwaradzimba had clearly failed to administer the affairs of SMM Holdings and called for the establishment of a parliamentary-led commission of inquiry to urgently look into the issues affecting the comatose asbestos mines.
Finance minister Tendai Biti also urged government during the 2011 National Budget statement to speedily find solutions to the SMM Holdings issue.
Biti said the impasse at the asbestos mine, the sole producer of the chrysolite fibre that makes asbestos, should be resolved as soon as possible because it was beginning to affect other local industries that depended on the product.