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Govt miner Kuvimba scores own goal in bid to distance itself from Tagwirei

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  • "There is too much information and paper trail showing Tagwirei’s footprints for Kuvimba to try to distance itself from him. The cover-up is weak. The highest office in the country is already implicated in Kuda’s e-mails. Of course, ZACC will pretend it didn’t see anything," said Magaisa, referring to the anti-corruption organization.
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Kuvimba Mining House, the government’s new mining investment vehicle, has issued a statement in response to a 38-page investigative report by anti-corruption NGO, The Sentry.

The report details the hidden business practices of the oligarch and presidential adviser Kuda Tagwirei.

Sentry, an American anticorruption group, has published a series of emails from Christopher Fourie, a founding director of Sotic International, the company that acquired multiple mining assets in Zimbabwe over the past two years. The emails appear to show Tagwirei running the strategy and funding of the acquisitions, but Kuvimba insists that ownership has since changed to exclude the businessman.

“The article is based on documents and details allegedly supplied by Mr C. Fourie and relate to the period 2018 to early 2020. While there has been an association in the past, between certain individuals mentioned in the report, it is important to note that there was a process, which is largely in the public domain, over the last year to separate and create a standalone mining business with the express purpose of creating value for many Zimbabweans, either as employees or shareholders,” Kuvimba said in a statement on Tuesday.

Responding to the statement by Kuvimba, lawyer and academic Dr Alex Magaisa trashed the statement saying it exposed more rot than it sought to sanitize.

“The only thing that the statement has achieved is to raise more questions and suspicions.

“Kuvimba says it has nothing to do with Kuda Tagwirei but it lists Ziwa (Pvt) Ltd among its shareholders. But we already know that one shareholder of Ziwa is Pfimbi Resources whose shareholders are Kuda Tagwirei and his wife. The denial is vacuous and less than honest,” said Magaisa.

Statement issued by Kuvimba Mining House on Tuesday

He added: “Kuvimba confirms that the assets it holds were originally owned by Sotic International and says it acquired them as part of “restructuring”. Tagwirei has/had interests Sotic so the attempt to distance itself from him are futile, disingenuous and embarrassing.

“There is too much information and paper trail showing Tagwirei’s footprints for Kuvimba to try to distance itself from him. The cover-up is weak. The highest office in the country is already implicated in Kuda’s e-mails. Of course, ZACC will pretend it didn’t see anything,” said Magaisa, referring to the anti-corruption organization.

In one email said to be from Tagwirei, sent in May 2019, Tagwirei purportedly writes to Sotic directors Fourie, Jozef Behr and Ronelle Sinclair: “We are about to make one of the biggest companies in Southern Africa and here you are jostling and fighting. We have so much work ahead of us.”

But Kuvimba claims the emails do not reflect the current ownership of the company.

Says the company: “Kuvimba notes the contents and distances itself from the report and reiterates that Mr Tagwirei is neither a shareholder, nor is he involved in any activities of the business. In fact, we distance ourselves from Mr Tagwirei.”

Yet, while the company says the process of change of ownership is “largely in the public domain”, there has been no detailed explanation from either the company itself or government on how the assets moved from Sotic into the hands of government – which owns 65% of the business – and the other shareholders revealed during a US$5.2 million dividend payout in June.

In 2019, Sotic bought 73.24% of Bindura Nickel Company (BNC) from Asa Resources. In its latest financials, BNC only discloses that “this shareholding was transferred to Kuvimba Mining House”. But Sotic, according to Fourie, still owns shares in the Zimbabwe mines.

Other assets under Kuvimba include ZimAlloys, which has just emerged from judicial administration after Sotic’s investment, as well as a share of Great Dyke Investments.

Kuvimba’s investments have seen a resumption of full operations at mothballed mines, such as Shamva, bought from Metallon for an undisclosed sum, and also at ZMDC mines Jena and Sabi. Freda Rebecca has also hit new output records this year.

In its statement on Tuesday, Kuvimba says “the company is actively looking for other growth opportunities”. – Zimbabwe Voice and Agencies

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