FOUR Botswana nationals have appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), the Foreign Affairs ministry and other state organs in a bid to claim part of a gold mine in Masvingo that was seized from them by their local partners.
The Botswana nationals, Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan, Abdur Razzak Khan, Akbar Ali Khan and Muneer Ahmed Khan, are the majority shareholders of Bradfix Incorporated (Pvt) Ltd, a mining vehicle, with a 60% stake in Golden Hill Mine in Mashava, Masvingo.
Their Zimbabwean partners, Ragin Kassim and his wife Chipo Machona Kassim, hold a 40% stake in the mine. The Botswana nationals entered into a joint venture with the Kassims on 12 November 2013. Kassim owned and controlled five gold claims, registration numbers 8469, 8470, 8471, 8472 and 8473.
Documents at hand show that no mining operations were taking place at the mine and there was a risk of forfeiture due to non-renewal of inspection. Under the joint venture agreement, the Botswana directors were to provide seed capital and equipment required to commence mining operations.
Kassim would, in turn, transfer rights in the mine, including gold claims 8469, 8470, 8471, 8472 and 8473, to Bradfix Incorporated (Pvt) Ltd as the vehicle through which the project would be implemented. The Botswana directors have invested a total of approximately US$795 000 into the project since 2013.
“The Botswana directors raised funds for investment into the project through loans accessed from banks in Botswana and sold some of their properties to finance the project, with the expectation that the loans would be repaid from the returns generated by the project. The loans are yet to be repaid and have continued to accrue interest,” a letter of complaint by the Botswana nationals’ legal firm Matutu and Mureri Legal Practitioners addressed to the Office of the President and Cabinet dated 23 November reads.
The letter is copied to the Botswana embassy, Zacc, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida), Mines ministry, provincial mining director and Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira.
Zida is responsible for the licensing of investors and was established in February 2020. Trouble for the Botswana nationals began after their partners refused to transfer one of the gold claims, block number 8470, to Bradfix Incorporated (Pvt) Ltd as per the agreement. On 14 March 2021, the Botswana shareholders were “violently denied” access to the mine.
“On 14 March 2021, the Botswana directors visited the mine site, they were threatened and violently ejected by the new security personnel led by Mr Anderson Tauyanago, the head of security,” the letter reads in part.
“A malicious report was lodged with the Mashava Police, to the effect that the Botswana directors in the company of Takunda Hungwe trespassed the mining site and let alone stole ore in the presence of hostile security on 14 March 2021 when they visited the site.
“The Botswana directors have been denied access to management reports and the state of financial performance in the company from March 2020 to April 2021. However, being in the essential services industries, the mine was operational during all the lockdown periods.”
In April, the Botswana directors filed an urgent chamber application for an interdict with the High Court at Masvingo, to suspend the mining operations following the fallout. However, the matter was dismissed as not urgent and removed from the roll.
The application has since been restored and filed as an ordinary application for interdict and it awaits set down.
“Kassim has neglected to meet statutory obligations because of the dodgy manner in which the mine was being run. To date, Bradfix Incorporated (Pvt) Ltd does not have a valid tax clearance because the company has not submitted returns with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). The only logical conclusion is that the money was converted to personal use,” the letter adds.
“We fear that due to this lack of accountability, probity, proper corporate governance and reporting, the business will start to run into major losses and the Botswana directors will not realise a return on their investment.
“However, since they have been frozen out of the operations of the business and starved of any information on its performance, we can only imagine what the full extent of the prejudice they may suffer is.
“The conduct of Mr Ragin Kassim and Mrs Chipo Machona Kassim is fraudulent to the extent that it warrants a criminal investigation by the ZRP and the Zacc. It is our prayer that the key agencies such as the ministry of Mines, Zida and police urgently intervene to protect the investors and to secure their investment.”
In an interview from his Botswana base, one of the shareholders, Sarfaraz, appealed to authorities to “assist the investors who would have been attracted successfully into the country”.