Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has been adjudged in contempt of Parliament and could be jailed or fined for allegedly lying under oath about the whereabouts of Shabanie-Mashaba Mines (SMM) bearer share certificates that were previously in the possession of a United Kingdom-based company T&N.
Presenting findings on the state of affairs at SMM yesterday, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy said Chinamasa and SMM administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba were also at fault by publishing a defamatory statement in the Press, hence demeaning the proceedings and character of the committee.
Committee chairperson Edward Chindori-Chininga said Chinamasa made a commitment under oath to present the bearer share warrant as proof of government ownership of SMM Holdings after payment of $2 million.
“Three letters from Parliament requesting the minister to fulfil his commitment have been presented to the Minister of Justice (and Legal Affairs) and to date no bearer share warrant from T&N has been presented to the committee,” the committee report read in part.
“The committee notes the second witness Minister of Justice Hon Patrick Chinamasa could have lied under oath regarding the possession of bearer share certificates of SMM Holdings that were previously in the possession of T&N.”
The committee added: “From evidence presented, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the co-Minister of Home Affairs are also seeking the proof of government possession of bearer share warrants as evidenced by Hon Minister of Mines and Mining Development’s (Hon Mpofu) letter to Hon K D Mohadi, co-Minister of Home Affairs, dated May 24 2011.”
In its recommendations, the committee said the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo should act on Chinamasa and Gwaradzimba’s behaviour, and the government and SMM disputed owner Mutumwa Mawere agree and recognise that the current ownership dispute was settled by a UK court.
The committee said the Anti-Corruption Commission and the police should be directed by appropriate authorities to investigate allegations of abuse of office, theft of mining materials, vehicles, building materials, unauthorised sale of assets and mismanagement of resources at the two mines and associated SMM companies.
It said the government and Mawere must enter into a dialogue, negotiate and develop a win-win lasting solution that will allow the resuscitation of the two mines and allow a window of opportunity for investors to inject developmental capital into the asbestos mines.
“Investment opportunities for the mines should not be restricted to the Far East only. Government should open up and approach other local and international investors,” reads the report.
The committee said there was nothing wrong with the Reconstruction of State-Indebted and Insolvent Companies Act as it was in harmony with the Constitution, but said it was worried with the selective application of the law.
“However, the discretionary application of the reconstruction laws by the minister raises many challenges of confidence and security of ownership to Zimbabwean indigenous business men and women who have benefited or will benefit from the government’s implementation of the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme anchored by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.”