MDC-T has described the impasse between SMM Holdings owner business tycoon Mutumwa Mawere and Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa over ownership of the mining conglomerate as intriguing and achieving nothing to help the 60 000 people affected by the closure of the asbestos mines.
However, Mawere has hit out at the MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to understand the issues at hand. To reduce the SMM matter into a personal one, Mawere said, was not only regrettable but missed the fundamental issues at stake.
He said if the law was considered to have toxic effects like the adverse impact on the livelihoods of SMM employees, the MDC-T ministers and MPs should know what to do rather than issue statements that masked the real issues at play.
“We come from a heritage where there are a few role models in business and, therefore, anyone who scales the business mountain is easily misunderstood to be a crony or an appendage of political forces. I guess to the person who authored the statement, my rights are perishable and are not worthy of concern to the party.
“The link between the employer and worker as social partners is easily lost in the kind of politics that is focused on narrow and personal issues rather than the kind of Zimbabwe one would want to see. I guess if I was of different heritage, the concern may have been about the kind of legal framework and political morality that would allow the state as a purported creditor to engage in self-help activities and completely rule out the involvement of the appointment of an administrator of a company incorporated and administered in terms of the Companies Act.
“Chinamasa can legitimately argue the Bill was passed by (Parliament) in which the MDC-T was represented and at no stage has the MDC-T asked for the law to be repealed,” Mawere yesterday said.
The bottlenecks between the two over ownership of the mines, the MDC-T said, further put the lives of the SMM workers into disarray.
“It is callous for government, whether inclusive or exclusive, to behold such suffering and it take no remedial action,” read the statement. “It is equally heartless for any government to ignore the impact of such selfish and unproductive squabbles on the women, children, and underprivileged in our society.”
The MDC-T said it was sad that the lives of over 60 000 people in Zvishavane and Mashava and surrounding communal lands had been destroyed by the wrangles over the mines.
Chinamasa last week told the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy that Mawere fraudulently acquired SMM Holdings and that he never paid the $60 million required of him to complete the sale and purchase agreement with T&N Plc, a company registered in Britain since he did not have the funding for the transaction.
Mawere however said: “I have no personal issue with Chinamasa and at no stage in my life have I been involved in any matter that could possibly make him hold a personal grudge against me. How can one upset a Minister of Justice whose mandate is to promote justice and equity? The ministry has very little to do with the private sector and it is only in this strange matter that issues related to alleged state liability are being handled outside the Ministry of Finance which point must be of concern to any genuine democrat.
“Instead of establishing from Giles Mutsekwa (then Home Affairs co-minister) who was involved in the matter, it is strange that the import of the statement is to question the basis on which the decision to de-specify not only myself but others was made.
Why would the MDC-T not be interested in verifying from its own representatives in government what is going on? It is not clear what message the author of the statement is trying to convey when he/she says the policy flipflop sends a damaging message to any would-be investor, with devastating consequences for Zimbabwe’s long-term economic revival without precisely spelling out who is flip-flopping.
“Anyone who is interested and concerned about the plight of workers at SMM must necessarily be concerned about the kind of environment that would permit the absurdity to take place while political actors chose to engage in diversionary tactics and strategies whose sole purpose is to score political points rather than address the root causes of the problem.”
Committee chairman Edward Chindori-Chininga could not hide his dismay on the bickering between Chinamasa and Mawere.
“It seems like you (Chinamasa) and Mawere have some fight to solve, but that is beyond the concerns of the nation and you need to sort that one out,” said Chindori-Chininga last week.
The MDC-T said Chinamasa’s move to despoil of Mawere’s assets, without first considering the plight of the workers at those mines had deprived the country from earning foreign currency and was slowly turning Zvishavane and Mashaba into ghost towns.
“Chinamasa must come clean and tell the nation that the dispute lies squarely between himself, Zanu PF and Mawere – not with the inclusive government. The people of Shabanie, Gaths and Mashava deserve justice and fair play,” they said.