By A Correspondent- Mines and Mining Development minister has been caught up in a corruption storm after a Harare businessman accused him of using ministerial powers to grab his gold mining claims in Mberengwa and awarding them to his company.
The allegations were brought to light on Thursday when Anesu Gold Mining and its director Yakub Ibrahim Mohamed dragged Chitando and his company, Gold Reef Mining before High Court judge, Justice Rogers Manyangadze seeking to interdict them from mining in the disputed area.
Prominent Harare lawyer, Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara who is representing Mohamed told the court that for reasons known to himself, Chitando failed to defend the corruption allegations by either deposing an opposing affidavit or filing heads of argument since November last year when Anesu Gold applied for the interdict.
Professor Lovemore Madhuku who was representing Chitando made a last minute attempt to argue on behalf of Chitando. He said the allegations raised against the Mines Minister were serious and there was need for him to defend himself.
However, Zhuwarara argued that the time Chitando should have responded had lapsed and his lawyers never applied for an extension if they wanted him to respond to the allegations.
Justice Manyangadze reserved judgement.
The mining claims, known as Mangoro were previously owned by, and registered in the name of, Start Mining Services (Private) Limited which has since changed its name to Anesu Gold.
Zhuwarara argued in court that Chitando abused his ministerial powers to forfeit the eight mining claims in Mberengwa and corruptly re-issued them in a Special Grant to Golden Reef Mining where he is a director and shareholder.
He said Anesu Gold was never given prior notice before its claims were confiscated.
“Thus despite the applicant having rights to the claims in issue, it was not afforded the opportunity to make representations before the forfeiture of its mining claims by the second, third, fourth respondents (who all qualify to be administrative authorities in terms of the Administrative Justice Act),” Zhuwarara submitted.
“The fourth respondent (Chitando) breached the provisions of the Administrative Justice Act for him to award the claims to his company and he chose the richest claims. The Applicant’s Founding Affidavit shows that there was corruption. The second fourth respondents clearly abused their power.
“It is not in dispute that the first respondent is on the mines in question, extracting minerals such that by the time the main case is finalized all minerals would have been extracted, and the resultant judgment will be a brutum fulmen. So this interdict is necessary to preserve the subject matter of HC5161/21, otherwise the applicant will suffer irreparable harm.”
Mohamed said Chitando was a director of Gold Reef Mining and shareholder through his company Windev Investments (Private) Limited.
He said in 2018, he secured a US$6,4 million Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Fidelity Printers and Refiners (Private) facility to finance the mining claims and operations, including the payment of the inspection fees for the mining claims but was shocked to learn later that they had been forfeited by Chitando.
Mohamed also said, he had secured an Australian investor to provide additional funding for the project.
Professor Welshman Ncube who is representing Gold Reef mining said several jobs will be lost if the interdict is granted. He said Anesu Gold lost the mining claims because it was holding them for speculative purposes.
According to the court papers, Anesu Gold initially owned a 70 % stake in Start Mining Services, while 30 % was held by Mberengwa Enterprises (Private) Limited owned by Rugare Gumbo.
Mohamed in his founding affidavit said he was now holding a 100% stake in the company after buying Gumbo’s 30 % shareholding.
He said in 2012, Gumbo approached Chitando before he became minister in an attempt to interest him to invest in the mining claims, but was turned down but in 2014 businessman Shingi Mutasa expressed an interest in the claims and invited the former Mimosa Mining boss to do a due diligence.
“I gave him all the write ups and information of the mining claims. Mutasa engaged Chitando’s team to carryout due diligence. Mutasa and Chitando chartered a small plane and flew to the mining claims for an inspection in loco. Mutasa did not come on board following due diligence for reasons best know to himself,” he said.
“It is necessary to note that although Mutasa did not come on board, Chitando’s team and himself, had all the data and information of the of the juicy areas of the mining claims and watch what followed later.”