Mutumwa Mawere’s return critical for Zimbabwe investor confidence Part 2 of 5

In a move which is expected to boost investor confidence exiled business man Mutumwa Mawere arrived in Zimbabwe on 19 October, ending years of exile that started with the controversial seizure of his vast business empire.

During the now infamous anti-graft campaign the pretext for the seizure was that he had ‘externalized’ close to US$20 million in foreign currency and his companies owed the state money.

Mawere has written a number of articles about the situation in Zimbabwe, starting with his own situation and detailed explanations of his past business interactions.

It is during that phase that I sat down with Mawere in London and asked him what he felt was the real challenge facing African entrepreneurs in general and Zimbabwean business people in particular?

He highlighted several areas and challenges but the one that stuck to me most was that he highlighted the lack of appreciation by our own community of its business people as one of the key challenges that an African business man faces.

As the conversation developed I began to understand what he referred to as our unwillingness to praise each other even though when we can readily observe the contribution one has made.

Looking at the path he had travelled I fully appreciated the importance of this aspect in terms of the whole community as Zimbabweans and Africans giving full support and recognition to those who would have made a difference and in so doing encourage the young to aspire to venture into business as a respectable and noble life choice.

Mawere’s return to Zimbabwe is significant in that the experience that Mawere has in business only a few Zimbabweans have it. It would be very sad for the country to lose such experience and vast business knowledge when the country desperately needs ideas ,skills and experience to create jobs and enhance productivity.

Exiled Zimbabwean Journalist Lance Guma concludes “Over the years the justification for the seizure has been exposed as nothing more than victimization, for as yet unclear reasons. In May this year Mawere, along with other prominent businessmen accused of similar crimes, was ‘de-specified’ meaning he was free to challenge the seizure of his companies in a Zimbabwean court.”

In 1996, Mutumwa acquired Zimbabwe’s sole asbestos mining company Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM), branching out through all of Zimbabwe’s economy.

His rise was accompanied by allegations of improper support by politicians from the then ruling ZANU-PF, especially in connection with government guarantees for a US$60 million loan used in the purchase of SMM. Mawere denied these claims, saying that purchase payments were guaranteed for by a deposit of shares of the mining company instead .

As part of the acquisition from T & N, Mawere through ARL acquired:

1 - Tube and Pipe Industries (TPI) (www.tubepipe.co.zw), a wholly owned Zimbabwean company, established in 1968 as Morewear Tubes (Pvt) Ltd. It commenced operations in 1972 at the current premises in Harare’s Willowvale industrial site. The company changed its name to Tube and Pipe Industries in 1978 after being acquired by Turner and Newall (Manchester - UK).

2 - Turnall Fibre Cement (TFC) (www.turnall.co.zw), a division of SMM that is involved in the production of building material including fibre cement roofing products, piping and accessories. TFC manufactures conduit steel conduit pipes and couplings, water pipes, tubes, steel places and borehole casings.

3 - In November1997, ARL listed through a reverse takeover of the Acacia Group, SMM’s industrial assets being Tube & Pipe Industries and Turnall Fiber Cement and changed the name to TH Zimbabwe Limited. This was one of the most successful listings in Zimbabwe that created a platform for a broad-based ownership of the company including workers and management.

The operations of the Acacia group and SMM’s industrial divisions were successfully merged to create one of the strongest black-owned and controlled groups of manufacturing companies.

SMM became the controlling company of THZ and strategically offloaded about 30% of its stake in the company to institutional shareholders i.e. pension funds as a broad-based empowerment initiative.

4 - To create more focus and give more value to shareholders, in 2002, ARL unbundling the TH Zimbabwe group into three separate listed companies as follows: Steelnet (Zimbabwe) Limited comprising three divisions:- TPI, BMA FASTENERS, a company that was part of the Acacia Group, engaged in the manufacture of a range of bolts and nuts, wire nails, roofing products, rock support systems and specialized forgings.
gilbert m
It also offers complementary services like hot dip galvanizing, electro plating heat treatment, wire drawing and general engineering, and Hastt Zimbabwe - www.hastt.co.zw also acquired from the Acacia Group whose activities included the manufacture of a range of engineered equipment and spares for the agricultural, transport and manufacturing industries, General Beltings Limited, also part of the Acacia stable whose activities included the manufacture of Rubber, Plastics Hoses and Belting.

Given this type of business acumen and network individuals of Mawere’s caliber are what Zimbabwe and Africa needs to rebuild the Zimbabwe brand and the Africa brand. There is clear need to recognize local business people as a source of knowledge and investment

This article appears courtesy of GMRI CAPITAL – www.gmricapital.com . It is generated for 3MG MEDIA – www.3mgmedia.ca .

Gilbert Muponda is an Investment Banker and Founder of GMRI CAPITAL . He can be reached at; www.ZimFace.com and
www.facebook.com/muponda
Email: [email protected] . Skype ID: gilbert.Muponda
Twitter ; http://twitter.com/gmricapital
Phone: 1-416-841-5542

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