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Chitando on the ropes over mine grab storm

Chitando on the ropes over mine grab storm

MINES minister Winston Chitando is on the ropes after failing to depose an opposing affidavit n Thursday, in a case where he is accused of grabbing eight gold mining claims belonging to businessman Yakub Ibrahim Mohamed and re-issuing them under a special grant to Golden Reef Mining (Pvt) Ltd, where he is a director.

Mohamed claims that Anesu Gold is the registered owner of the gold claims in Mberengwa district, Midlands province, which are also referred to as Mangoro claims (Ipanema).

The matter was set for hearing in early February, before being postponed to February 24 at the request of then Chitando’s lawyer, Takudzwa Mutomba who indicated the minister had secured the services of a new lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku who was tied up elsewhere.

On Thursday, Madhuku failed to depose an opposing affidavit to rebut the allegations when he appeared before High Court judge Justice Rogers Manyangadze.

The other respondent, Golden Reef was represented by Welshman Ncube.

Ncube argued that Anesu Gold had failed to establish a locus standi in its founding affidavit.

In his application, Mohamed submitted that the mining claims were previously registered in the name of Start Mining Services (Pvt) Limited.

Mohamed said in that arrangement he owned a 70% stake with the other 30% owned by Rugare Gumbo.

Mohammed told the court that he later bought out Gumbo and now owns 100% shareholding of the claims.

It is alleged that in 2018, Chitando, whose political career is on tenterhooks amid reports of a Cabinet reshuffle, sent invoices for Start Mining Services to pay mining fees for the claims.

Fidelity Printers approved that US$6,4 million must be paid to finance the applicant’s operations, including the payment of the inspection fees for the mining claims.

“This arrangement had the approval of the governor of the Reserve Bank and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Fidelity gave the facility on the strength of clean and unencumbered mining claims following a due diligence process,” Mohamed’s court affidavit read.

He said the certificates of registration of the mining claims were handed over to Fidelity in February 2019 followed by a due diligence exercise.

However, he said he was shocked to learn that a special grant had been issued, and his claims forfeited.

Mohamed also alleged that in 2012, Gumbo approached Chitando, before he became Mines minister, asking him to invest in the mining claims but Chitando refused.

Around 2014, Mohamed then invited prominent businessman Shingi Mutasa to invest and he showed interest, but insisted that due diligence checks be done.

Mutasa and Chitando chartered a small plane and flew to inspect the mining claims in loco. After the checks, Mutasa allegedly did not take up the offer.

“Although Mutasa did not come on board, Chitando’s team and himself, had all the data and information of the juicy areas of the mining claims,” Mohamed submitted.

He said Anesu Gold secured an investor from Australia who agreed to form a joint venture, after the investor was assured by Chitando and Ndhlovu that the mining claims were clean and unencumbered.

“It would be the investment’s saddest day if this country is to send an investor back to Australia under these circumstances. This should not be allowed if transparency is to be the order of the day,” Mohamed told the court.

Mohamed said Chitando was a director of Golden Reef and shareholder through his company Windev Investments (Pvt) Limited, adding that the decision to forfeit the mining claims was “wrongful, unlawful, malicious, illegal” and motivated by greed.

However, Gold Reef argued that Mohamed and Anesu Gold had no legal right to bring the case before the courts, adding there was nothing illegal about Chitando being a director of Golden Reef Mining.

“It is respectfully submitted that applicant, having been previously challenged on its locus standi, in previous cases between the parties, particularly case numbers HC7497/20 and HC33/21, had an obligation to plead its locus standi in the founding affidavit by explaining how it has the locus standi to vindicate rights which on the face of it belonged to a company known as Start Mining Services,” Ncube submitted

Chitando on the ropes over mine grab storm