Bona wedding: Motsepe's presence raises eyebrows

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe used his quota of invitations to his daughter, Bona’s wedding to invite a string of wealthy friends and benefactors, including South Africa’s richest black man — mining magnate Patrice Motsepe.

The invite to Motsepe, who has a net worth of $2,7bn, according to Forbes’ rich list estimates, raised eyebrows with top government officials saying the wealthy businessman was targeting investments in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, no foreign investor can get huge mining concessions without Mugabe’s signature, and Motsepe who is said to be eyeing the lucrative coal and platinum mining was seen sitting among the most important guests at the wedding in the VVIP enclosure where presidents and former presidents were seated.

On Mugabe’s guest list for the wedding of his only daughter Bona, 24, who wed pilot Simbarashe Chikore, 38, was South African tycoon and Soweto-born Motsepe, a lawyer by training and South Africa’s first and only black billionaire.

In line with most modern weddings, Mugabe, as father of the bride, was allowed to nominate a group of friends for the ceremony as well as the champagne and canape reception afterwards at the first family’s plush and expensively-built Borrowdale Brook home on Saturday.

The event was beamed live on State TV, until at least after the vows, with the private media barred from the event.

The Daily News understands the relationship between the Mugabes and Motsepe dates back to 2009, when the tycoon, through his publicly-traded mining conglomerate African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) which has interests in platinum, gold, coal and other minerals; was scouting for mining deals in Zimbabwe.

Motsepe wants to set up ARM in Zimbabwe, and was mulling pumping $300 million to mine the southern African country’s vast coal and platinum resources.

Zimbabwe has the second-largest platinum deposits in the world after South Africa, and abundant reserves of gold, platinum, coal, diamonds, nickel, iron ore, copper and coal-bed methane, remain largely untapped.

While Motsepe was not taking calls from the Daily News last night or returning messages left on his voice mail, David Simelane, ARM’s business development manager, recently said “we are prepared to invest in Zimbabwe’s mining sector and are willing to inject not less than $300 million for mining activities as soon as a consensus with the ministry (of Mines) is reached.”

The wedding’s guest list made eye-catching reading, apparently crammed with “mega-rich” foreigners, among them presidents of South Africa, Zambia and Equatorial Guinea and a couple of former leaders, among them Jerry Rawlings of Ghana who counts the Mugabes among his acquaintances.

Motsepe, who jetted into Harare ahead of President Jacob Zuma, has a “keen interest” in Zimbabwe’s abundant minerals, and in 2009 led a 22-member South African business delegation to Harare to explore opportunities and signed an investment guarantee with government officials.

The team met Mugabe at State House and expressed interest in mining, banking, construction, retail and textile firms in Zimbabwe.

Some South African observers said Motsepe was part of the Zuma delegation since the South African president had snubbed a Nelson Mandela function to attend Bona’s wedding.

Motsepe, who  also owns Pretoria-based football club Mamelodi Sundowns, one of SA’s biggest soccer teams since 2003, has lavished massive sums on good cause, earning himself and his wife, Precious — a style icon who is also a medical doctor —  a place in South Africa’s high society.

Motsepe, a black economic empowerment beneficiary, is reportedly playing a large part in Zimbabwe’s indigenisation effort and  was on “very cordial” speaking terms with Mugabe, according to officials familiar with their relationship.

While Motsepe, a fabulously rich philanthropist’s presence at the nuptials was a major talking point, there was deepening mystery over $100 000 donated to the newly-weds by an unnamed company.

While the couple was feted with presents, many of those who donated to the so-called “Royal Wedding” have chosen to keep their presents a secret.

The Motsepes’ links with the Mugabe family particularly raised eyebrows because they were not perceived as friends.

Insiders said in return for the immensely lucrative mining business, Motsepe was eyeing investment deals  and has achieved the ultimate product placement — a seat at the wedding ceremony for the Mugabes.

“It’s a breakthrough for him,” said a government official who declined to be named citing the sensitivities of the matter.

Motsepe was said to have stayed briefly for the champagne-fuelled all-night party the Mugabes threw for the mega-rich guests, which was spiced up with performances by Zahara, the Soweto String Quartet, Congolese rhumba superstar Koffi Olomide and local stars Jah Prayzah and Suluman Chimbetu.

Insiders described it as a “near-feudal gesture of appreciation” to the Motsepes.

Motsepe, who was in the VVIP tent, was rubbing shoulders at the wedding with top executives, including tycoon Ihmad Ahmed who donated $50 000 to the newly-weds, and occupants of foreign thrones.

Critics said from this guest list arises a whiff of something a little more pungent than the rose petals strewn at the bridal feet.

Comments (25)

If indeed he wants to invest in our country ,then why raise eyebrows.Don't we need investors in our country so that there will be jobs for our children ?

chimuti - 4 March 2014

Aaaaah! Iwe Zvimiti kwana mhani. If everything was above board why, just as one example, was the private media banned from covering this so-called wedding of the century for which the state paid so much all round - from security to transmitting parts of the wedding live on ZBC?

Kamba - 4 March 2014

Iwe urichimuti chaicho. Do you ever think even in your wildest dreams that jobs will be created for your children. how many times have youbeen fed that shit in the last 30 years? And you are still so dumb as not to know that your children will suffer until they die vachingoudzwa kuti jobs will be created for them? Why are you so dull? Zvako Zvawakawana zvikakwana i T-shirt, beret neZambia chete. Uchadhla izvozvo mupfanhami. Wakapusa manhingi.

Kachembere kekwaChivi - 4 March 2014

No wonder why you were banned from covering the event. You always find something negative to report. Dai ari mwana wa Tsvangirai achata were you going to report like this? Biased people.

Taka - 4 March 2014

well, said Taka..these are not biased people but are actually BASTARD pple.

welsh - 4 March 2014

With people like @Taka and @Welsh around no wonder this kleptocracy has lasted unscathed for all of the past 34 years! The result, Zimbabweans get poorer and more desperate by the day - evading crocodiles in the Limpopo as they migrate southwards in their millions to evade hunger and disease.

Musorodamba - 4 March 2014

Patrice Motsepe was supposed to partner the first lady in a lucrative platinum deal last year. The deal as planned is said to include Grace Mugabe, Patrice Motsepe and ZMDC. The platinum assets are currently owned by the Chinese who want to sell for a massive profit. Something went wrong then and this could be an effort to resuscitate it. Patrice was Mbeki ally and it is also believed he is one of the so called investors that reported corruption overtures from the Ministry of Mines.. and Mbeki passed on the report to Mugabe. It is also alleged that there is a prominent SA based Zimbabwean businessman who is facilitating this deal.

connie - 4 March 2014

Welsh naTaka you are unrepentent and unashamed asslickers.

Mutirowafanza - 4 March 2014

saka chakaipa chii apa?

jore - 4 March 2014

True brother, what raises eye brows here, if it was British or American would you say that. Very good for him to invest here, one of us.

NDABEZINHLE NKOMO - 4 March 2014

If anybody takesides with the murderer who has 20000 graves under his belt then people's eye brows are raised shame on you Motsepe we no you will be used to sponsor zanu but zanu 's days are nearing end and what are going to do?

Diibulaanyika - 4 March 2014

DJIbulaaNyika uri deluded duzvi chairo can you please show us the so called Mass Graves where 20000 are buried you idiotic Twakazy yemunhu.MaPUPPETS anonetsa because dai yanga iri nguruve chena yabva hameno dai muchiridza manja but here is our African brother who wants to invest but the puppets that you are sees it different.

mike muchapondwa - 5 March 2014

boring boring daily news, your negativity is nauseating

simba - 5 March 2014

let' have African investors like Motsepe for the good of our continent.

solo - 5 March 2014

lets have african invester so he can suck his brothers blood never forget big money is only made with blood on the hands

JACK - 5 March 2014

I don't think there is anything wrong with billionaires who genuinely support the Zanu-PF cause.

nokia - 5 March 2014

The very reason why Zimbabweans are so oooo poor & suffering is because we debate about irrelavant issues. The times of the kings are long gone wake up mabaranzi ... Bobo ngainde kwaZvimba ... to stop the raping of this nation that is the real issue ... there maybe we can start.

Cde WWhiteRabbit - 5 March 2014

The problem right now is there is a lot of selfishness in our leaders. Just imagine they are mining diamond in Chiadzwa and Mbada sponsor soccer through out the whole nation- fine, but how do we explain that Sakubva stadium is condemned. Roads in that city are a mess, pot holes everywhere. Currently the investers that are coming are not benefiting the nation ,but individuals- Motsepe, Grace and company. So eyebrows are raised because another partnership for the bosses while the nation gets nothing.

lionel - 6 March 2014

When the Britons were in charge, corruption was there but vaidya nevamwe saka taisaiona... Zvino vanamkoma vedu ava kana vongogona kumora uchi chete vasinga tarisi kuti vamwe vavarikuti varikumirira varikurarama sei, zvaaoma! Whites were better. I. Smith was better than to have your black brother treat you in the same way he did.

Coolage - 6 March 2014

Kikikiki mandityora vanhu vedaily news. Tototsvagirwa mainvestor pamuchato. mMakadini kumutsvaka vasati vamukoka kuti awuya. Tinoda mainvestors asina mastrings attched and ivo vakuru vanozvigona nekuti vashandira nyika 90 years koiwe ako mainvestors aripi uye washandira nyika papi tiudzewo mupepa renyu.

martha - 6 March 2014

Zimbabwe we are told has some of the biggest minerals deposit in the world yet it is one of the poorest in the world. Just walk across Harare and see the poverty there with everybody trying to sell anything yes anything. A selfish people are running the country and cowards are fighting each other. Mahwindi anorovana, ma vendors anorwa, ma opposition parties anorovana, ma soldier anopedzera shungu pavanhu, ma shops anorwisana ne ma customers for payments which have already been deducted from their salaries, tiri makwara. and we are paying for that.

maita - 7 March 2014

Fire with fire.Long live Bob

cobra - 7 March 2014

saka kuuya kumuchato kwa Motsepe kune basa rei. a wedding is a pvt ceremony where families are previleged to invite who they want and that they dd. so whats wrong with that. people want to politicise every bit of action. no wonder y zimbabwe yacho haina kwainoenda. pull him down syndrome yakawandisa.

taneta nemi mhani - 10 March 2014

EEe matamata kutsvaga kuti sei Motsepe auya, he came because he is a person invited by a person. And thats all social, he has a social life and the President has a social life. Zvimareporters izvi just want to link private life ne politics asi makadyisiwa naMogen. Dai ari mwana waMogen akachata handi Obama aiuya pamwe nezvimbwasungata imi moombera. Africans we always look down on fellow africans

Chihwa Wekumupata Pachivaka Bikita - 11 March 2014

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