Dumisani Muleya/Augustine Mukaro
ZIMBABWEAN business magnate Mutumwa Mawere, who was released yesterday in South Africa on R50 000 bail after being arrested on charges of externalising foreign currency,
has slammed Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono for “displaying venom” in his duties.
In an interview, Mawere said Gono was pursuing individuals and companies on trumped-up charges and in the process destroying the foundation of indigenous businesses as well as the economy at large.
“It is unfortunate and regrettable that Zimbabwe has sunk so low. For someone like me who has done so much for Zimbabwe to be accused on the basis of trumped-up charges shows that something has gone terribly wrong somewhere,” Mawere said.
“Whose interests are being served by this crusade is not clear. What is clear though is that it is destroying the foundations of black business in Zimbabwe and replacing them with a RBZ governor who wants to be chief executive of Zimbabwe Inc.”
Mawere said it was “appalling” to see a country engaged in an act of self-destruction “with Gono exerting more energy in hounding individuals – as if he was a police commissioner – than working on economic recovery.
“Sound economic policies can never be substituted with a display of venom and arresting individuals. People can try that but they will fail in ensuring economic recovery,” he said.
“If Zimbabweans spend more time reasoning together on issues than throwing each other into cells it would be better for all of us. RBZ governors in history have been known to focus on core issues than spending time arresting people.”
Mawere said the allegations against him were largely baseless while some were actually lies.
Mawere was arrested by South African police on Tuesday over foreign currency externalisation charges back home. He was yesterday released on R50 000 bail after appearing in a Johannesburg magistrate’s court.
Police spokesperson Mary Martins-Elbrecht said Mawere was released on bail after an initial court appearance at a Randburg magistrate’s court in the South African commercial capital.
“He appeared in court today (yesterday) and was released on R50 000 bail. He was remanded out of custody to June 29,” Martins-Elbrecht said.
“He is not facing any charges in South Africa because he was picked up on a Zimbabwean warrant of arrest by Interpol.”
Martins-Elbrecht confirmed that Mawere has dual citizenship – that of Zimbabwe and South Africa – and his extradition to Harare would have to be determined by the courts.
“He has dual citizenship and it’s up to the courts to determine whether he can be extradited to Zimbabwe or not.”
Mawere’s arrest came as police intensified their blitz on businessmen suspected of corrupt business practices.
Mawere has rejected the allegations of externalisation, saying he was not a Zimbabwean resident and did not sit on his companies’ boards.
It was not possible yesterday to confirm reports that Mawere was exposed by a whistleblower who had met a Zimbabwean investigating team from the Reserve Bank and police.
Mawere gained prominence in the mid-1990s after he bought the country’s largest asbestos mining conglomerate, Shabani/Mashava Mines, which is part of the huge Africa Resources Ltd, with a sovereign guarantee
Mawere’s business empire which has tentacles in almost all important sectors of the economy includes Africa Associated Mines. He also has confirmed interests in eight listed companies, General Beltings, Steelnet, Turnall, Fidelity Life, Zimre, Nicoz Diamond, CFI Holdings and First Bank. His firm Ukubambana/Kubatana Investments (UKI) also has large stakes in other listed companies.