Zimbabwe got mines from company linked to sanctioned tycoon

Kuvimba Mining House Ltd, which the Zimbabwean Government says it controls, said it bought its assets from a company linked to a tycoon sanctioned by the US, giving the first details on how the State firm was formed.

Kuvimba has been shrouded in controversy since Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube announced its formation. He said in January the company’s revenue would be used to help pay for everything from compensation for evicted white farmers to State worker pensions.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube (right) and Kuvimba Mining House Chairman Justin Mupamhanga (centre) hand over a dividend cheque to Finance and Economic Development Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga, representing the Government, during the firm’s dividend distribution ceremony in Harare on June 24, 2021. (Photo: Memory Mangombe/The Herald)

Its assets are the same that those held until at least late last year by Sotic International Ltd, a company linked to Kudakwashe Tagwirei, an adviser to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2020 because of allegations he bribed government officials and used political influence to win lucrative state deals.

“These assets, which were originally part of Sotic International, were acquired as part of the restructuring exercise over the last year to create a separate, autonomous mining company,” Kuvimba said Tuesday in a statement in the State-controlled Herald newspaper.

The US Treasury place financial sanctions on Kudakwashe Tagwirei, an adviser to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in 2020.
(Photo: Investopedia)

CEO leaving

The statement comes after Bloomberg reported on a trove of e-mails, documents and WhatsApp messages that delineated the links between Tagwirei and Sotic, and the Financial Times and The Sentry followed with reports giving details of the relationship this month.

Documents and communication seen by Bloomberg showed his participation in company decision-making and demonstrated that he at least partially controlled Sotic.

“Tagwirei is neither a shareholder, nor is he involved in any activities of the business,” Kuvimba said. “In fact, we distance ourselves from Mr Tagwirei.”

David Brown, a former chief executive officer of South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd, is the CEO of both Kuvimba and Sotic. He has said he plans to step down without giving a date.

David Brown, former chief executive officer, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd (Photo: Robert Tshabalala/MiningMX)

Zimbabwe’s Government says it directory owns 21.5 per cent of Kuvimba and smaller shares are held by an array of State companies, bringing state control to 65 per cent. Ncube has repeatedly declined to say who owns the rest.

Ncube’s mobile phone was switched off when Bloomberg tried to call.

The company gave no details of how much was paid or how the assets were acquired from Sotic.

Its assets include gold mines, a share in a platinum concession part-owned by Russian investors and nickel and chrome operations.