SMM battle spills into Parliament

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Businessman Mutumwa Mawere’s lawyers Gutu and Chikowero have written to the Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo complaining about laws used to seize his Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM).

In a letter dated December 9, the lawyers challenged what they termed unconstitutional loss of Mawere’s assets to government, arguing they were taken from the businessman at a time when he was a specified person using the Prevention of Corruption Act.

They said assets belonging to such a person can only be disposed of with the approval of an investigator assigned to the specified person.

The two Acts used to wrest Mawere’s asbestos mines were the Reconstruction Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The effect of specification was to protect the assets deemed to be under the control of Mawere pending the completion of investigations and an order revoking the specification of Mawere was issued by the co-ministers of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone, on May 19, 2009, but notwithstanding, the assets beneficially owned by Mawere have not been returned to him,” read part of the letter.

The attorneys added: “To this end, a legal and constitutional issue has arisen as to whether it was the intention of the legislature to have two pieces of legislation, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Reconstruction Act to be enforced concurrently and more significantly to have the Prevention of Corruption Act become subordinate to the Reconstruction Act.”

In an interview, Benjamin Chikowero, one of the attorneys said: “We sent this letter to the Speaker, senators and MPs because it is a critical national issue, which has serious implications on the rule of law.

“If it happens to Mawere, what would stop the government from doing the same to other Zimbabweans in the future?” Chikowero asked.

The attorneys challenged Parliament to look at possibilities of repealing or amending the two Acts, which they said they were oppressive.