MINES and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando has been implicated in a messy mine ownership wrangle amid accusations he grabbed eight gold mining claims belonging to businessman Yakub Ibrahim Mahomed.
He reportedly then re-issued the claims under a special grant to Golden Reef Mining (Pvt) Ltd, in which he has interests.
Mohamed, who owns Anesu Gold (Pvt) Ltd, filed a High Court application seeking to interdict Chitando, Mines secretary Onesimo Moyo, Golden Reef Mining, and Midlands provincial mining director Tariro Ndhlovu from grabbing the mining claims.
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 yesterday, but High Court judge Justice Rogers Manyangadze postponed it to February 24 at the request of Chitando’s lawyer, Takudzwa Mutomba who indicated that the minister, together with Moyo and Ndhlovu had secured the services of a new lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku who was tied up elsewhere.
Welshman Ncube is representing Golden Reef Mining while Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara is representing Anesu Gold.
In his application, Mohamed said the mining claims were previously owned by, and registered in the name of Start Mining Services (Private) Limited, where he initially had a 70% stake with the other 30% owned by Rugare Gumbo.
Mohamed said he later bought out Gumbo and now owns 100% shareholding of the claims.
It is alleged that in 2018, Chitando 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 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.
But Gold Reef argued that Mohamed and Anesu Gold had no legal right to bring the case before the courts.
“The invoices for payment of inspection fees were issued to Start Mining Services and not applicant. Forfeiture made reference to Start Mining Services as the holder of the mining claims being forfeited,” Gold Reef director, Thomas Gono said.
“Accordingly, hence it is submitted that if any of the mining claims belong to applicant, no lawful and accurate procedure, as prescribed by law, was followed to change names on certificates of registration after transfer. Equally the fact that Minister Winston Chitando’s company Windev Investments is a shareholder in first respondent has no material bearing on how applicant lost mining rights over mining claims in question.”
Gono said there was nothing illegal about Chitando being a director or shareholder in a certain company, adding that the mining claims in question were forfeited two months before inspection fees were paid, meaning that the applicant had defaulted.
In his opposing affidavit, Ndhlovu said Anesu Gold was invoiced for payment of already overdue inspection fees, adding that the mining claims were forfeited in terms of section 260 of the Mines Act.