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Mnangagwa ally sponsors protégés to block takeover of Redwing Mine



PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Pedzisayi “Scot” Sakupwanya (pictured) has been fingered as the person sponsoring three workers at Redwing Gold Mine in Penhalonga who filed High Court papers opposing a Supreme Court ruling that handed the plant back to the former owners, the British company Metallon Corporation fronted in Zimbabwe by South African business magnate Mzi Khumalo.


The mine, located in Manicaland province about 20 kilometres northeast of the city of Mutare and 265 kilometres southeast of Harare, was placed under judicial management in July 2020 whereupon Betterbrands company, owned by Sakupwanya,  was brought in to control operations under a rescue plan.

The rescue plan operation was initially led by judicial manager Cecil Madondo but were taken over by David Hofisi after the former was suspended for embezzling the gold proceedings.

Redwing Mine, once famous for producing huge quantities of gold every year worth millions of dollars, last month went back to Khumalo’s stable which also owns How Mine, Shamva Mine, Mazowe Mine and Arcturus Mine after the Supreme Court set aside the rescue proceedings, citing legal technicalities.

However, The NewsHawks this week learnt that Sakupwanya had sponsored three workers at the mine to approach the High Court with an application for a ruling that would bring back the rescue operations which were controlled by the Affirmative Action Group leader’s Betterbrands Jewellery company.

In the matter that is under case number HC250/2022 at the High Court, Peter Zheke, Victor Zivanai and Peter Chirakaraka argue that the company must be placed back into corporate rescue under Hofisi so that they are paid their outstanding salaries.

The three also argue that under the former owners Metallon who operated Redwing Mine, there will be no prospects that the outstanding salaries of workers will be paid in a reasonable period of six months.

Redwing company is cited as first respondent while the Master of the High Court and Registrar of Companies are cited as second and third respondents.

In his submissions in the court papers, Zheke argues: “The company (Redwing) is failing to pay its debts as contemplated is Section 121 (f) (i) of the Insovency Act such that if left in the hands of its shareholders Redwing Mine will go under and all stakeholders including its employees will lose out.

“The shareholders of the first respondent either have no capacity or interest or both, to revive its fortunes.

“Before the placement of the company on corporate rescue in 2020, the company owed me US$6 000 in salary arrears. During the period when the company was on corporate rescue, the salary arrears accumulated by RTGs 1.9 million and US$3 000. The company was unable to pay me the RTGS component for the entire 25 months that the entire company was on corporate rescue.”

In sharp contrast, on 3 February this year, over 200 workers at Redwing Mine marched at the plant in protest over continued operations of Sakupwanya’s Better Brands Company, saying it had brought untold suffering to their families through worse working conditions and deployment of rag-tag illegal miners from Kwekwe and Shurugwi commonly known as “mashurugwi”.

During the protests, the workers openly shouted that they wanted Metallon back and Sakupwanya’s company out of Penhalonga.

Through the Associated Mine Workers’ Union (AMWU), the employees in the past submitted a petition at the Labour ministry complaining about Sakupwanya’s operations and demanding the company’s exit from Redwing Mine.

A source at Redwing said the three workers who were calling for the return to rescue operations were not speaking in the interests of the other 700.

“Workers fear to come out openly, but it’s an open secret here at Redwing that Sakupwanya sponsored that High Court application by the three workers. A general creditors’ resolution passed on 9 September 2021 voted for the kicking out of Sakupwanya’s company out of Redwing, but through his connections he held on until last month’s Supreme Court ruling that sacked his company.”

“There was general jubilation among workers that Betterbrands had been stopped so we are shocked with the High Court application seeking return of the rescue operations,” said a highly placed employee of Betterbrands.

In January last year, Mutare civil society organisations released a damning Press statement flagging Betterbrands for its operations at Redwing Mine.

Part of the statement read: “That for the past 10 months PRA open pits mining activities at Redwing have extensively damaged the environment and increased the vulnerability of the community to landslides, flooding, and hazardous contamination of water among other environmental concerns.”

“Mining operations were also dominated by issues of mineral leakages, undeclared mineral sales to Fidelity Printers. Undeclared tax remittances to local authorities such as Mutasa Rural District Council, National Social Security Authority (Nssa), Chamber of Mines, and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to name but just a few.”

In its operations at Redwing, BetterBrands set up mining syndicates to exploit shallow open pits (free digging) targeting reef outcrops across the 1 254 hectares of Redwing concession without undertaking an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process.

Section 97 of the Environmental Management Act (Ema) oblige mining companies to undertake an EIA and apply for an EIA certificate to Ema before the commencement of mining activities. Redwing Mining Company (RMC) only has a valid environmental management plan (EMP) for underground mining.

Repeated efforts to contact Sakupwanya for a comment did not succeed.