By Staff Reporter
HARARE-PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s cash strapped government, which seems to be resorting to unorthodox ways to raise money, risks being sued by some local and foreign mining firms that it swindled of millions of dollars in non-existent “special” coal mining grants, thezimbabwenewslive can reveal.
It emerged last week that in 2011, the ministry of Mines and Mining Development—then under Obert Mpofu, one of President Mugabe’s most corrupt ministers—invited applications for special coal mining concessions in Matabeleland North and 85 local and foreign firms that responded were made to fork out at least US$100 000 each.
However only 18 were given the special grants after paying various amounts upto US$500 000. Of these only one—Makomo Resources—was allocated a mining concession in the Hwange area with the government playing a hide and seek game with the rest.
In Fact, Mpofu at one time accused the mining firms of failing to start mining operations and threatened to cancel the mining concessions.
Mpofu at the time claimed President Mugabe had been personally involved in interviewing the applicants and the selection of the winning firms.
More than four years later, it is emerging that there were no mining claims to be allocated in the first place as the area (Matabeleland North) cannot accommodate so many colliery firms.
This effectively mean President Mugabe’s administration sold a dummy to the desperate mining firms. Last week current Mines and Mining Development minister Water Chidhakwa confessed to mining executives gathered in Victoria Falls for the 76th annual general meeting of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines that there was no way so many new mines could be opened in the area.
“We received 85 special grant applications but can you see 85 new coal mines in Matabeleland North? I don’t know, but I don’t think it is correct way to go. We collected in some cases US$500 000, US$100 000 from these people. It is not money that cannot be refunded. It is a lot of money. We have been operating one coal mine (Hwange Colliery) here, so can we operate 85?” The affected mining firms could sue the government for interest which could have accrued to their funds had they not been swallowed in this fraudulent transaction.