By Nomalanga Moyo
KADOMA – Authorities at besieged Tolrose Gold Mine in Kadoma have turned to First Lady Grace Mugabe for help, after her son Russell Goreraza invaded the mine for the second time this month.
President Mugabe’s stepson Goreraza, who claimed to be acting with his mother’s blessing, also took all the gold concentrate produced for that day.
The latest forcible takeover of the goldmine happened last Thursday after the First Lady’s son allegedly scaled a security fence to gain access to the locked premises, according to the NewsDay newspaper.
As reported earlier this month, the mine is at the centre of an ownership dispute between former partners Jameson Rushwaya and ex-banker Patterson Timba.
Timba is said to have sold his shares to Goreraza, amid the protracted wrangle, which has seen the two parties in and out of the courts since 2010.
But rather than follow proper boardroom procedures, Goreraza earlier this month stormed the mine’s premises, declaring himself the major shareholder – see http://www.swradioafrica.com/2013/10/04/grace-mugabes-son-seizes-control-of-mine/.
Attempts to get a comment from Goreraza were futile as he disconnected his phone as soon as SW Radio Africa asked whether he had indeed taken over Tolrose Mine. We also failed to speak to Rushwaya’s lawyer Mr Maupa, who indicated that he was travelling before his phone disconnected.
However Shame Chimusaru, a manager at Tolrose Mine, told NewsDay that Goreraza scaled the security fence, broke locks to the stamp mill premises, and seized an estimated 500g of gold concentrate.
“He came with a gang of almost 15 people in (ZANU PF) party regalia and climbed over the fence to get to the stamp mills which had been running for eight hours. He broke down locks to the gold separators and took the gold which had gathered there,” Chimusaru is quoted as saying.
The value of the gold concentrate seized by the First Lady’s son is estimated at $25,000. The manager revealed that despite making a police report, no action had been taken against Goreraza, forcing Rushwaya to seek “audience with the First Lady”.
It is unclear whether Goreraza will retain the more than 300 staff at the mine. So far reports suggest that only those managers deemed loyal to Rushwaya have been barred from the mine.
Abednico Bhebhe, the MDC-T Mines Shadow Minister, said the situation at Tolrose Gold Mine is an “embarrassing” proof of the lack of leadership in the country.
“I am yet to get the full details of what is happening but from what I have gathered so far, this demonstrates that this country has gone to the dogs. This is the First Family which we should respect and who should be conducting themselves respectfully and without reproach.
“Buying something and then going on to grab it without going through due acquisition processes shows that there is an element of thuggery displaced by the son of the First Lady,” Bhebhe said.
The Nkayi South legislator said Goreraza reflects the type of leadership offered by the First Family: “With such an approach to issues, are we surprised that the country faces the kind of problems it is mired in?
Bhebhe said foreign investors will not be encouraged by such reports of ‘smash and grab’ by members of the First Family.
He said that Rushwaya’s team was wasting their time turning to Grace for help: “If she wanted to intervene, she would have done so by now without waiting to be approached. That’s what any parent, under normal circumstances, would have done when their son acts in a way that raises eyebrows as Russell has,” Bhebhe added.
Last Friday SW Radio Africa reported that Grace Mugabe herself had allegedly evicted some small-scale miners from part of Manzou Game Park in Mazowe, in what is just the latest of earlier invasions by the First Lady.
Timba, through his company Swimming Pool and Underwater Repair Company, allegedly sold his shares to Goreraza and his wife for an undisclosed fee.
A banker by profession Timba, is one of three other directors who were kicked out of the financial services group Africa First ReNaissance Corporation (Afre) board last year, amid accusations of abuse of policy holders’ funds.
Prior to that Timba had been booted out as executive chairman of Afre, following problems at his now defunct ReNaissance Merchant Bank (RMB).
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Timba may have extended a loan to Rushwaya which was used in the Tolrose venture. It is said that following problems at RMB and some repayment issues on the part of Rushwaya, Timba demanded total ownership of the mine, leading to the on-going spat. SW Radio Africa