Mugabe orders Chinamasa off SMM

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Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, whose role in the affairs of SMM Private Limited (SMM) has been under the spotlight since the probe by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy chaired by Edward Chindori-Chininga, has been given the boot by President Robert Mugabe.

This follows revelations that a plan had been hatched to transfer the shareholding in SMM to a consortium led by an unnamed local businessman.

NewsDay has it on good authority that Chinamasa, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and SMM administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba, had reportedly been summoned by President Mugabe to explain the circumstances surrounding SMM two weeks ago.

It was not clear what role Mnangagwa played in the SMM saga. President Mugabe decided to transfer the administration of the Reconstruction of State-Indebted and Insolvent Companies Act to Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu.

After two weeks Chinamasa relented, leading to the official handover that took place last week.

Sources said Chinamasa and Gwaradzimba were reluctant to hand over SMM to unfriendly parties for fear that this would open a Pandora’s box.

“There is a lot that Chinamasa and Gwaradzimba would want to hide since the principal players in the SMM saga are the same as those who were involved in the Smoothnest Investments deal and the Tsholotsho debacle,” observed one political analyst.

By placing the control and management of SMM under Mpofu, the thinking behind the decision appeared to have been motivated by a feeling that any direct rebuke of Chinamasa and Mnangagwa for their role in the SMM saga would divide Zanu PF ahead of elections later this year.

Precisely what Mpofu will do with SMM was not clear but it was understood he had delegated the responsibility of administering the company to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). ZMDC officials met with Gwaradzimba on Friday.

Both Chinamasa and Gwaradzimba have been accused of misrepresenting that SMM was owned by AMG Global Nominees Private Limited (AMG) and Nickdale Investments Private Limited (Nickdale). SMM’s sole shareholder was SMM Holdings Limited (SMMH), domiciled in the United Kingdom.

The reconstruction laws do not apply to the affairs of companies in the UK.

“Notwithstanding, Chinamasa and Gwaradzimba have yet to explain how the government managed to alienate the shares held by SMMH in SMM to AMG and Nickdale,” the analyst said.

However, Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Gift Chimanikire who attended the handover meeting said all legal arguments “have now been put aside”.

“Contrary to the assertion by Chimanikire that legal arguments have been put aside, an important issue remained unresolved. This relates to the applicability of the reconstruction laws to the affairs of a specified person. SMM was placed under the control of Gwaradzimba at the time both (former owner Mutumwa) Mawere and the company were under specification. The Prevention of Corruption Act that Chinamasa used to specify SMM and Mawere specifically prohibits the disposal of the assets of a specified person,” the source said.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Home Affairs co-ministers on Sunday night were fruitless.