New Zimbabwe (London)

18 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Kereke - Gono Cooked Books to Seize Mawere Empire

FORMER Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Chief Gideon Gono misrepresented facts to the government regarding the situation at the Shabani-Mashaba Mines leading to the company being placed under judicial management, the Constitutional Court has been told.

The allegation was made by Gono's former advisor Munyaradzi Kereke in his answering affidavit as the acrimonious legal battle between the pair continues.

Kereke, now MP for Bikita West, was fired by Gono in unclear circumstances. He later made sensational allegations that Gono stole millions in public funds and is now pressing for authorities to investigate the case.

Shabani-Mashaba Mine, previously owned by exiled businessman Mutumwa Mawere, was forcibly placed under curatorship by the government in 2004 over claims the company was heavily indebted and needed reconstruction.

Mawere rejected the claims and has been since fighting to get his businesses back without any success.

Now Kereke claims Gono "lied" to the government.

"In my report to the first respondent (Gono) as already submitted before this honourable court I pointed out that the second respondent manipulated the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe' debts to SMM holdings in a manner that misdirected the government in its dealings with the company in very fundamental ways," Kereke claims.

The legislator said auditors picked up "this fraudulent manipulation of books of accounts" and "explicitly documented this but the second respondent (Gono) yet again wielded his powers as he doubled up as the RBZ board's chairman and ignored the findings of the auditors".

Kereke added that the external auditors Deloitte and Touche pointed out that SMM holdings debts were exaggerated by more than four times the original capital borrowings through bizarre interests loaded in breach of the In Duplum Rule.

"For the record I wish the honourable court to please take note that it was precisely these cooked up debts which were created by the second respondent in a vindictive manner against SMM holdings shareholders that led to the government taking over SMM holdings," Kereke told the ConCourt.

The wrangles that then followed, Kereke said, led to the closure of SMM asbestos mine in Zvishavane, destroying jobs and foreign exchange earnings for the country

"Such vindictive misdirected and shameless misrepresentation of facts by second respondent is unpardonable. As his advisor, I pointed this anomaly in the strongest of terms but was quashed into silence through direct threats of censure," he said.

Commenting on the saga in 2012 Mawere said President Robert Mugabe was ill-advised regarding the case.

"Individuals with their own agendas chose to give Mugabe the wrong advice and he is being confused in the process. He should be properly informed in order to make balanced decisions. Mugabe is watching with his eyes wide open as the Constitution and other laws of the country are being murdered," said Mawere.

The businessman reiterated the argument he had put forward in court that the role of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, headed by Gono, was questionable.

"You don't understand where the RBZ came from in this absurdity (placing of SMM under curatorship). What was Gono's interest in it? If at all I owed anyone money, was the RBZ part of that? There are things that just don't make sense," said Mawere.

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