PROMINENT Zimbabwean tycoon Mutumwa Mawere, now a South African citizen, says part of the money recently used by government to pay the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrears came from his
Mawere’s disclosure reinforces reports that government raided exporters’ foreign currency accounts and the auction system to raise the US$120 million it paid to the IMF to reduce its US$295 million debt.
The revelations raise questions about the propriety of the sources of the money which Harare paid to the IMF after failing to secure a loan from South Africa to settle its arrears. Harare rejected Pretoria’s credit facility conditions.
In a letter written last week to the IMF managing director, Rodrigo de Rato, Mawere said government used proceeds from his confiscated firms to pay the IMF.
The letter was copied to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and senior IMF officials. Mawere is a former World Bank and International Finance Corporation employee.
The payment of part of the IMF debt and a handful of concessions on economic reforms saved Zimbabwe from expulsion. Harare was given another grace period of six months to put its house in order or risk being expelled.
“While your executive board has decided to postpone a recommendation to your board of governors with respect to Zimbabwe’s compulsory withdrawal from the fund,” Mawere said, “I am not sure whether your management and staff are aware of the policy steps that have led to the illegal expropriation of private property rights by the state thereby enhancing its capacity to pay you.
“I am sure that if your executive board was aware that part of the source of payment from Zimbabwe directly originated from the proceeds of the state’s illegal activities, your institutions would have arrived at a different conclusion in your deliberations,” he said.
Mawere lost his flagship conglomerate, Shabanie Mashaba Mines (Pvt) Ltd, which he had bought for US$60 million from British company, Turner & Newell plc in 1996, to the state.
His mines, together with companies in finance, insurance and agriculture, were seized under the Reconstruction of State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act which came via a presidential decree.
Mawere – who now runs his South African company, Africa Heritage at Rivonia in Johannesburg – wrote to Robert Mugabe in the past over the issue of his companies. He has accused government of seizing his firms on political grounds.
Mawere was accused of externalising foreign currency and was specified under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He was arrested in South Africa last year but freed after Zimbabwe failed in its bid to extradite him.
He said he felt compelled to bring the issue to the IMF’s attention due to the misrepresentation of facts about Zimbabwe’s arrears repayment.
Mawere said contrary to Zimbabwe’s central bank governor Gideon Gono’s claims that the money came from “exporters”, “my companies that generate about US$100 million per annum now under state control were used to pay you (IMF)”.
He has accused Gono of spearheading the campaign to seize his firms and nationalise them. He said this had set a dangerous precedent and was very damaging to the economy.
“It is unfortunate that by expropriating my assets, the state has created a window to make good on its obligations to you,” Mawere wrote to Rato.
“I would like to believe that your institution may not be aware that parts of the funds used to reduce Zimbabwe’s obligations to you were a direct result of the dispossession of private property rights by the state.”