by Staff Reporter
HARARE-AN attempt by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to use the courts to settle scores with former BP Shell (now Zuva Petroleum) workers who tried to throw spanners into a business transactions involving his foreign business partners could have gone horribly wrong resulting the current labour crisis which has seen thousands of workers summarily losing their jobs following a dubious Supreme Court ruling that effectively allow employers to terminate workers contracts without compensation.
Judiciary and government sources this week revealed that the judgment delivered by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku last week, which confirmed an earlier Labour Court ruling which had curiously allowed Zuva Petroleum to terminate employment of its two senior managers by just giving them notices, as a “political” judgment not a judiciary one as the intention was just to punish the workers in questions who had fought hard to stop Mnangagwa foreign business partners from taking over the assets of BP-Shell disguised as indigenous investors.
The sources suggested that former Information minister Jonathan Moyo—who is bitter with Mnangagwa for his role in his “demotion” to a less influential High and Tertiary Education portfolio—is behind the campaign by the State media to highlight the destructive effects of the ruling.
“It’s one of those cases that the CJ (Chief Justice) had been asked to have a special interest in because Don Nyamande had ruffled a lot of feathers when he tried to stop Mnangagwa and his partners foreign partners from taking over Zuva. After efforts to retrench them (Nyamande and Kingston Donga) yielded no results, the firm was given the green light to bulldoze the off because the matter was going to be dealt at the judiciary level where judges are told what to do,” a source told thezimbabwenewslive.com.
“The JC simply applied the law that is meant for contract workers on permanent workers… who doesn’t know that if an employer wants to get rid of permanent staff, retrenchment is the only route? It was thought that this bizarre judgment would just pass without event, but Moyo made sure it got magnified in the State media in order to embarrass those who had masterminded it,” the source added.
Mnangagwa was the substantive minister of Justice until his appointment as VP in December last year and still has the ministry under him.
Though independent on paper, Chidyausiku effectively reports to him.
“You can see the inciting way The Herald started covering the ruling… Moyo was behind all that because he wanted to expose Mnangagwa’s dirty dealings… Mugabe would want to know how the JC can up with such a crazy ruling and things would eventually be traced to the VP, its quite a messy situation,” another source said.
It could not be established this week exactly what interests Mnangagwa has in Zuva Petroleum, although it is known that some foreigners, who are his business partners, were allowed to take over the firm in direct violation of indegenisation laws.
Another source said it was highly possible that Mnangagwa was one of the mysterious shareholders in Zuva.
Last year it was reported that Zuva Petroleum assets had been bought by a company owned by FBC Holding chief executive officer, John Mushayavanhu, but later reports started suggesting that the banker was just a font for a British-based commodities firm, Glencore Holdings.
Woble Investments, which is owned by Mushayavanhu, and his wife, claimed to have bought a 51 percent stake in Zuva petroleum from London-listed Masawara Plc, to whom the BP & Shells assets had been sold before they were rebranded to Zuva Petroleum.
Many suspected that Masawara had also been a front for Mnangagwa’s Glencore friends and the whole convoluted transaction was just meant to confuse the public even more.
Last year a report by the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) suggested Masawara never owned the Zuva shares in the first place and that it was a front for Glencore, which funded the purchase and is again the financier of Woble’s purchase of the same shares.
Reports also linked the secretive transaction to one Ketani Joshi, who has substantial interests in FBC Bank led by Mushayavanhu.
Ketani is a member of the powerful Joshi family that used to run ZANU-PF businesses until they fled the country after investigations into alleged irregularities in the operations of the companies. Mnangagwa still maintains very strong connections with the family. The Joshis helped start FBC Bank, which was then known as First Banking Corporation, a bank that for a long time remained a ZANU-PF backyard pool.
Since it formation more than 20 years ago, the bank has had solid links with the country’s military junta having been the only bank that handled the murky financial transactions that concerned Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo war. All the estimated 11 000-plus Zimbabwean troops deployed in DRC were paid through the bank.
Mnangagwa is one of those reported to have gotten filthy rich from the loot that came from Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Conga war.