PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa was behind the removal from office of former Vice-President Kembo Mohadi– broken by sex scandals – amid disputes which centred on competing business interests in Beitbridge and Penhalonga between the President’s family members and the ex-co-deputy.
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The Mnangagwa family, involved in business in various sectors of the economy, particularly since his ascendancy through a military coup in 2017, later legitimised via a disputed 2018 election, clashed
with Mohadi over a dry port project in Beitbridge and a gold mine in Penhalonga where politicians and their cronies have invaded the area, turning it into a vast artisanal mining field.
Mohadi was also unhappy that he had been left out of the US$300 million border renovation and modernisation project by Zimborders Consortium, fronted by its chairman Glynn Cohen, linked to the Mnangagwa family, the sources added.
Sources said the Mnangagwa family first clashed with Mohadi over his dry port project in Beitbridge in 2019. A dry port is an inland terminal directly connected to the seaport by high capacity transport such
“Mohadi two years ago set up a dry port project called Malindi Dry Port with some local business. He has vast tracts of land in Beitbridge,” a source said.
“A fight subsequently erupted among the Malindi partners and as a result some of them pulled out to set up their own project. They then invited some members of the Mnangagwa family, but Mohadi was unimpressed and upset by the move.
“He then protested to the Mnangagwas, who were themselves not happy with his bid to push them out of Beitbridge. The dispute deteriorated as Mohadi insisted that the Mnangagwa family members should
not come to Beitbridge to seize opportunities from him – take bread from his mouth. That
became a sore point between them.”
The sources said Mohadi is not under any illusions why he was forced out after his sex scandal. “He is aware of the real reasons why he was removed. Ask him, he will tell if you can convince him to talk,” another source said.
Efforts to interview Mohadi over the past two weeks have been unsuccessful.
However, sources said Mohadi knows that the dry port project had upset the Mnangagwa family.
Beitbridge, the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa, is ideal for a dry port.
It is located 585 kilometres away from Zimbabwe’s capital city Harare and 323 kilometres from Zimbabwe’s former industrial hub Bulawayo. It is approximately 1 117 kilometres from Africa’s largest seaport, Durban.
Hence, Beitbridge is the gateway for trade and cargo from South African ports with destinations in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and DRC.
The border, currently partially closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, operates for human and vehicular
traffic around the clock.
In 2016, Mohadi publicly called for the setting up of a dry port in Beitbridge which has services such as customs clearance, export declaration, bonded warehousing and other facilities.
Since rail is critical to a dry port initiative, Beitbridge is linked to multiple seaports in South Africa and Mozambique by railway.
That is why Mohadi proposed a dry port, with the objective of minimising truck distances, reducing transport costs and circumventing other challenges prevalent under the current system.
This sparked clashes with his boss’s family.
Mohadi tendered his resignation on 1 March after beingexposed for having sexual relationships with various women — some married.
Well-placed sources told The NewsHawks Mohadi was hit by a CIO operation which recorded his calls and messages talking to a harem of women — some of them married — using spyware developed by Israeli technology company Circles.
The sources said the real reason for spying on Mohadi and then later using the recordings to oust him was the politics of business in the top echelons of power.
Sources told The NewsHawks that Mohadi had stepped on Mnangagwa’s toes over various business interests, resulting in the President okaying his downfall through a CIO operation.
“Mohadi’s phone was being monitored since 2019 and all his business dealings and political interactions, as well as personal indiscretions were known.
“This was because he had clashed with the First Family over the establishment of a dry port in Beitbridge. Mohadi has an interest in a cargo bonded warehouse facility at the border so he intended to expand his interests to dry port, but Mnangagwa’s sons also had the interest in the same venture. He
confronted the boys and that created serious problems,” said a source.
The sources said the Mnangagwas also clashed with Mohadi over Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province. Zimbabwe’s then largest gold mining group Metallon Gold, owned by South African tycoon Mzi Khumalo, suspended operations at its Redwing Mine in 2014 due to flooding.
Metallon owned five gold mines in Zimbabwe, namely How Mine, the most productive, Shamva Mine, Arcturas Mine, Mazowe Mine and Redwing Mine.
The problem in Penhalonga started with the placement of Redwing Mine under judicial management in 2018, due to viability challenges owing to foreign currency shortages.
Different consortiums positioned themselves for the mine and its claims. One was supported by Mohadi and the other had links to Mnangagwa.
Mohadi supported Patricia Mutombgwera and Grant Chitate through their company Probadeck Investments which has legal ownership of the mine.
Well-known gold dealer Scott Sakupwanya and his own consortium also wanted the mining asset, and they were supported by Mnangagwa’s family.
Cecil Madondo was appointed by the High Court as corporate rescue practitioner of Redwing Mine, but later sold the mining rights three times, creating confusion.
On October 15 last year, Madondo told Mutombgwera and Chitate that he had given their company Probadeck exclusive mining rights on the claims held by Redwing covering 132 gold mining blocks,
eight copper mining blocks and any other mining claims.
So 15 days later, Mutombgwera and Chitate signed a joint venture relationship agreement with the mining company represented by Madondo.
Probadeck paid US$60 000 corporate rescue fees to Madondo’s personal company, Tudor House Consultants, and made capital expenditure amounting to US$200 000.
In November last year, Madondo prepared another memorandum of tribute agreement with Prime Royal, giving it the same mining blocks which he had ceded to Probadeck.
On December 1, Madondo entered into yet another memorandum of tribute agreement with Betterbrands Mining, giving it the same mining blocks.
There is also a Chinese gold mining company, Zhong Jian, interested in the gold-rich Premier Estate area in Penhalonga involved in the gold rush mix.
“Mohadi, who is into a lot of gold mining, has an interest in the mine through his partners Patricia Mutombgwera and Grant Chitate. They formed a company called Probadeck which had entered into a joint venture deal with the judicial manager Madondo, before they fell out and the issue is currently
in the courts.
“However, Sakupwanya, who is linked to the Mnangagwa family, wanted the gold mine. Mohadi tried to no avail to have the matter resolved amicably, but it all failed. His partners caused the arrest of Madondo on allegations of fraud, but failed to deal with Sakupwanya.
A Chinese dealer in partnership with Sakupwanya was arrested, but rescued by the powers-that-be,” a source said.
“These are the real issues behind Mohadi’s downfall. The sex scandal only triggered his removal, but the underlying issues are to be found in the politics of business.”
A local environmental rights group, the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), says Redwing
Mine has now became a battlefront for politicians.
“The closure of Redwing Mine offered an opportunity to political elites, the politically connected and securocrats who, with the aid of the organised syndicates, are exploiting the mine’s claims dotted around Penhalonga and Tsvingwe for profit without due care for the environment.
“The conversion of Redwing Mine to a huge artisanal mining field has caused political and
socio-environmental disputes within the Penhalonga and Tsvingwe communities. The politically connected have been displacing other artisanal miners from the mining field. There are reports that some artisanal miners have lost their gold-rich pits and ore to syndicate leaders fronting political and security figures.
“The involvement of politicians has undermined the rule of law, stability and livelihoods of affected communities. Corruption, sometimes coupled with intimidation and violence, has become common.
CNRG investigations have revealed that the haphazard mining in Penhalonga has now taken the form of organised crime as the syndicates are interlinked and use corruption and violence to secure mining
rights and resource rents.
“There is a clandestine secretive consortium which holds the strings of artisanal mining in Penhalonga. These networks tend to be transactional, determined and are controlled by a few individuals at key points in the artisanal gold supply chains.”
Efforts to get comment from presidential spokesperson George Charamba failed.