By Blessings Mashaya
Hwange-based Zambezi Gas, a coal mining company, has appealed to the Temba Mliswa-led parliamentary panel to intervene so that it can get its land, which was allegedly grabbed by Zanu PF administration secretary Obert Mpofu’s Makomo Resources, back.
Mpofu’s Makomo Resources is the largest privately-owned coal producer in Zimbabwe and supplies power stations, industrial and agricultural sectors.
Zambezi Gas shareholder and deputy managing director Linos Masimura told a parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines led by Mliswa that its special grant allocated it
19 000 hectares but the company has been given access to only 8 000 hectares, with the rest allegedly grabbed by Mpofu’s company.
Zambezi Gas’s disclosure is a boon for Mliswa, whose committee has been moving to pressure the Zimbabwe Power Company to stop buying coal from Makomo Resources because of contempt of Parliament allegedly displayed by Mpofu after he was summoned to the National Assembly in February to help explain the missing $15 billion worth of precious stones from Marange, as the government hunts for elusive answers on the emotive issue.
The parliamentary panel was on a tour to hear how Hwange Colliery Company was operating after Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando gazetted an order, effective October 30, placing the company under reconstruction in terms of section 4 of the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act.
Hwange, in which Zimbabwe’s government is the biggest shareholder with 37 percent shares, is the nation’s second largest coal producer after Makomo and also supplies coke to national electricity company Zesa.
“We have all our papers indicating that the land belongs to us. From 2003 the size never changed. When we pay licence fees, we pay for the whole land. We have written to the ministry of Mines asking them to follow the law,” Masimura said.
Masimura said the dispute arose when the shareholders of Zambezi Gas and Makomo Resources were negotiating a partnership, but when the deal fell through Makomo allegedly grabbed the Zambezi Gas land.
It seems it never rains but pours for Mpofu, who is also being frustrated by a group of former liberation war fighters who want him out of the ruling Zanu PF party.
The former Home Affairs minister is topping the list of under-fire Zanu PF functionaries that have received a hostile reception at the party headquarters in Harare
where they were deployed after being thrown out of President Mnangagwa’s Cabinet in September.
Parliament had previously recommended that Zambezi Gas should get back its land and that recommendation is yet to come to fruition. Meanwhile, Masimura said the shortage of foreign currency is affecting the operation of their mine.
The company is currently producing 50 000 tonnes of coal per month and is looking to produce 300 000 tonnes by 2019.
Mliswa hailed the company for doing its best under the circumstances.
“This is good of our country, you are doing great job and we are happy with the way you run your business. This is the right way to follow when you are doing mining,” Mliswa said.
The bad blood between Mliswa and Mpofu seem to have escalated in the wake of the former Mines minister’s refusal to be answerable to Mliswa during the inquiry on the missing $15 billion revenue from the gem-rich Chiadzwa diamonds fields.
The minister made it clear from the beginning of proceedings back in February that he had no time for the committee, also telling Mliswa bluntly that he could not be lectured on how Parliament worked.
Mpofu’s tantrum sparked anger among the gathered MPs who called for him to be slapped with stiff sanctions which he said, however, would have little effect on him — as he had been in Parliament for more than three decades, and thus knew how to deal with the august House’s procedures.
The burly former Home Affairs minister vowed never to appear before the portfolio committee to answer any questions relating to the missing $15 billion revenue as long as Mliswa was presiding over the emotive issue — also suggesting damagingly that the garrulous Norton legislator had at some point sought a bribe from him.
Mliswa, who has been reinstated as chairperson of the portfolio committee in the 9th Parliament, said: “We recommended that Mpofu is not fit to be a minister and I am happy that the appointing authority listened to us.”
Mliswa told the Daily News he will also follow-through recommendations by his committee to ensure the ZPC stops buying coal from Mpofu’s Makomo Resources company.
“We hope this issue is going implemented,” Mliswa said then. DailyNews