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Mines Minister Chitando accused of grabbing eight gold mines

Mines Minister Winston Chitando has been dragged to court over allegations that he grabbed eight gold mining claims belonging to businessman Yakub Ibrahim Mahomed and re-issuing them under a special grant to Golden Reef Mining (Pvt) Ltd, where he is a director.

In his High Court application, Mohamed owns Anesu Gold (Pvt) Ltd, is seeking to interdict Chitando, Mines secretary Onesimo Moyo, Golden Reef Mining, and Midlands provincial mining director Tariro Ndhlovu from grabbing the mining claims.

He said that Anesu Gold is the registered owner of the eight gold claims in Mberengwa district, Midlands province, which are also referred to as Mangoro claims (Ipanema).

On Monday, High Court judge Justice Rogers Manyangadze postponed the matter to February 24 at the request of Chitando’s lawyer, Takudzwa Mutomba who indicated that the minister, together with Moyo and Ndhlovu had secured the services of a new lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku who was tied up elsewhere.

Welshman Ncube is representing Golden Reef Mining while Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara is representing Anesu Gold.

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Mohamed argues that the mining claims were previously owned by, and registered in the name of Start Mining Services (Private) Limited, where he initially had a 70% stake with the other 30% owned by Rugare Gumbo who he later bought out.

The complainant alleged that in 2018, Chitando sent invoices for Start Mining Services to pay mining fees for the claims.

He added in his affidavit that Fidelity Printers approved that US$6,4 million must be paid to finance the applicant’s operations, including the payment of the inspection fees for the mining claims.

“This arrangement had the approval of the governor of the Reserve Bank and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Fidelity gave the facility on the strength of clean and unencumbered mining claims following a due diligence process,” Mohamed argues.

The complainant said despite certificates of registration of the mining claims being handed over to Fidelity in February 2019 followed by a due diligence exercise, he was shocked to learn that a special grant had been issued, and his claims forfeited.

Mohamed alleged that in 2012, Gumbo approached Chitando, before he became Mines Minister, asking him to invest in the mining claims but Chitando refused.

He added that around 2014, he then invited prominent businessman Shingi Mutasa to invest and he showed interest, but insisted that due diligence checks be done.

The court papers further read that Mutasa and Chitando chartered a small plane and flew to inspect the mining claims in loco. After the checks, Mutasa allegedly did not take up the offer.

“Although Mutasa did not come on board, Chitando’s team and himself had all the data and information of the juicy areas of the mining claims,” Mohamed submitted.

Mohamed said Anesu Gold secured an investor from Australia who agreed to form a joint venture, after the investor was assured by Chitando and Ndhlovu that the mining claims were clean and unencumbered.

“It would be the investment’s saddest day if this country is to send an investor back to Australia under these circumstances. This should not be allowed if transparency is to be the order of the day,” he said.

He added that Chitando was a director of Golden Reef and shareholder through his company Windev Investments (Pvt) Limited, adding that the decision to forfeit the mining claims was “wrongful, unlawful, malicious, illegal” and motivated by greed. Nehanda Radio