PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mines minister Winston Chitando were yesterday dragged into a case in which $6,4 million pumped into Hwange Colliery Company for exploration, allegedly disappeared, while board members were kidnapped and held hostage by an operative linked to the two with assistance from police officers.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Government on Monday put the troubled coal producer under reconstruction and appointed Bekithemba Moyo of DBF Capital as its administrator.
The move also suspended the functions of Hwange Colliery’s board of directors.
But members of the board, led by acting chairperson Juliana Muskwe, yesterday appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Mines, which is chaired by Temba Mliswa, to shed light on the goings-on at the mine.
She also spoke on the abduction of company secretary Allan Masiye and internal auditor Gilbert Mudenda by Shepherd Tundiya with the assistance of the police.
“There was a lot of mismanagement of funds by Shepherd Manamike (financial director) and Thomas Makore (former managing director) to the extent that Makore was even said to be paying a journalist at ZBC and when we demanded to know how much, Masiye was arrested and when we called for an enquiry on May 23, Makore resigned,” Muskwe said.
However, Makore reportedly continued getting payment under unclear circumstances even though he had been given his statutory retirement package.
“The $6,4 million for (exploration of) the western area was used without board authority,” Muskwe said.
“When we suspended Manamike, Tundiya stormed in with two police officers during a board meeting with our lawyers in Harare. They grabbed Masiye and Mudenda and threw them into a car without number plates.”
Muskwe said that Tundiya owned two companies — Phil Cool and Avin Investments — which had contracts to transport coal from Hwange to a Zimbabwe Power Company plant in Kwekwe and bragged that he was connected to Mnangagwa and Chitando and was taking instructions from the President’s office.
“When we suspended Manamike, Tundiya called me to say that Mnangagwa wanted to see me and I must report to the President’s office,” Muskwe said.
“When we went to the President’s office, we only saw a director (name not given), who instructed that we should work well with Tundiya. He (Tundiya) then took control and ordered the board to reinstate Manamike. He also called for another meeting at Chitando’s office where he gave instructions and surprisingly Chitando was quiet and did not say anything.”
Another board member, Edward Tome, said the financial problems at Hwange were caused by gross mismanagement.
He said a European company, Motor Engine, which was contracted to mine coal by the Hwange Company Scheme, had not been paid, alongside several other creditors and workers as management allegedly embezzled funds, while Tundiya called the shots.
“When we suspended Manamike and Makore for the second time, we were told that there were instructions from the top to reinstate him,” Tome said.
Former board member Ntombizodwa Masuku said they later heard that the instructions allegedly came from Mnangagwa, who said that Manamike was his neighbour and so could not be suspended from Hwange.
Tundiya allegedly owes Hwange more than $200 000 after he diverted coal for his own use.
After the board directed that a forensic audit be carried out, Chitando put the company under reconstruction.
The board members said they learnt of the development in newspapers as they were not consulted.
In an Extraordinary Government Gazette published on Monday, Chitando said Hwange owes the government over $150 million, with its liabilities far outstripping the value of its assets.
Hwange Colliery Company Scheme chairperson Andrew Lawson told the committee that placement of the coal producer under reconstruction was unlawful because it was publicly listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange.
The miner also lost the Western area concession, with businessman Billy Rautenbach telling the board that it was now his, Lawson told the committee.
Government has 37,1% shares in Hwange, Messina Investments 16,76%, Meikles Steel 9,76%, London Register 6,87%, National Social Security Authority 6,45%, Hamilton and Hamilton Trust 4,9%, Local Authorities and Pension Funds 1,2%, as well as several minority shareholders (4 401 in total).