New twist to indigenisation scandal

HARARE - Government ditched a private equity investment firm that audaciously stitched the first Zimbabwe Platinum Mines Limited (Zimplats) indigenisation deal before engaging Brainworks Capital, the Daily News can reveal.

Fronted by managing partner Kura Sibanda, investment firm Top Harvest had its mandate to advise government on the Zimplats deal withdrawn in 2011 by then National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (Nieeb) chairperson David Chapfika after receiving instructions from Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

Chapfika was later to be replaced by retired lieutenant general Mike Nyambuya, under whose leadership Brain Works Capital was hired to negotiate the Zimplats deal on behalf of government.

Apparently, Top Harvest was terminated because the proposals it had put forward were said to be unacceptable to President Robert Mugabe.

The deal involved a community ownership trust and vendor financing, which Kasukuwere claimed then would be outrightly rejected by Mugabe.

And yet, Brainworks — which was hired without going to tender and entitled to 4,5 percent commission of value for every empowerment deal — structured a more-or-less similar deal, complete with the earlier maligned vendor financing provisions.

“Kasukuwere said we are not going to pay for our resources because there is no vendor, there is no vendor financing,” Sibanda told the Daily News from Johannesburg.

“The minister said who is a vendor? We own our platinum 100 percent. Curiously, the same platinum is now being vendor-financed.”

Kasukuwere was yesterday locked in meetings, but said over the weekend he was “sick and tired of those who sit and look for mistakes.”

The Daily News understands self-exiled millionaire tycoon Mutumwa Mawere was heavily involved in the Top Harvest deal and in February 2011 facilitated a meeting between a Zimbabwe government delegation led by Kasukuwere with the Royal Bafokeng nation in South Africa to discuss various issues including mineral rights and benefit sharing with communities.

The Royal Bafokeng is a kingdom with 150 000 people covering 1 400 square km that is part of a stretch of South Africa’s platinum belt.

Its empowerment model has managed to transform mineral wealth into social stability, funnelling cash earned from its Royal Bafokeng Platinum Company into a mini-sovereign wealth fund that provides cash for schools, clinics and infrastructure.

Bafokeng and its capital, Phokeng, stand out as a beacon of success amid the poverty of the platinum belt, where sprawling tin-hut shanty towns sit alongside billion-dollar mines digging out the precious metal.

The Zimbabwe delegation apparently wanted Mawere to facilitate a study tour of the Bafokeng nation, with a view to implementing a similar model back home.

The Daily News understands Mawere facilitated the three-day visit, where Top Harvest opened talks that culminated in the financial advisors being hired to handle the Zimplats transaction.

Mawere’s Africa Heritage Society hosted a dinner at the Da Vinci Hotel in Sandton for the delegation and a number of stakeholders, including mining companies that have existing and potential interest in Zimbabwe.

The meeting was requested by Prince Mupazviriho, the permanent secretary in the Indigenisation ministry, and was attended by Kasukuwere, Local Government and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo and Mhondoro-Ngezi MP Bright Matonga.

The delegation also included Gilbert Marange (Chief Marange), Samson Katsande (Chief Nyamukoho), Stanley Wurayayi Mhondoro (Chief Zvimba), Zamantuwa Mukwanazi (Chief Ngungumbane), Mtshane Khumalo, the deputy president of the Chief’s Council and Brown Shopo (Chief Chivero).

Chapfika, Nieeb chief executive Wilson Gwatiringa and legal officer Theresa Maguma also attended the meeting, together with five journalists from various media houses.

Later, Top Harvest was given the mandate to negotiate and conclude the Zimplats deal, but Mawere says Kasukuwere did not want Matonga involved in the talks.

“Maybe it was because of their internal politics,” Mawere said from Johannesburg yesterday.

Top Harvest also facilitated meetings between Kasukuwere and David Brown, the CEO of Implats — which is Zimplats’ parent company.

Top Harvest was later to set up the first community share ownership trust for Zimplats.

The South Africa-registered investment firm structured a community-based empowerment model for the Mhondoro-Ngezi community.

But it was rejected by Kasukuwere ostensibly because government was spearheading broad-based indigenisation and economic empowerment especially aimed at empowering not only communities endowed with natural resources but the whole nation.

Everything later unravelled when Brainworks came into the picture, clinching the lucrative financial advisory role that allows it to pocket approximately $45 million from the Zimplats deal as commission, with Top Harvest shunted aside. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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