The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has been dragged into the ongoing fight between the government and the Friends of SMM Holdings (Pvt) Ltd (FOSMM) over the hostile takeover of the asbestos mine in 2005.
The government placed SMM Holdings under judicial management through the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act in 2005.
The Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act was agreed to by the late former President Robert Mugabe to reportedly protect SMM, formerly owned by Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere, against legal action and attachment of the company’s property by local and foreign debtors.
SMM administrator Arafas Gwaradzimba then approached South African, Zambian and United Kingdom courts in a bid to recoup SMM monies allegedly siphoned into the neighbouring countries by SMM directors, in particular Mawere.
The matter spilt into South African courts and FOSMM dragged Ramaphosa to the High Court last year challenging the extraterritorial application of the law in South African courts.
In response, Ramaphosa allegedly refused to sign his answering affidavit to the application, preferring that the South Africa principal State law advisor Godfrey Mphaphuli, who is a legal advisor in his office, acts on his behalf on the matter.
In his answering affidavit on February 1 this year, Ramaphosa confirmed authorising Mphaphuli to depose the answering affidavit in September last year.
In his letter to Ramaphosa dated February 7, 2022, Tawanda Mupasiri, the FOSSM public policy director, said:
I have taken time to familiarise myself with all South Africa litigations and inescapable conclusion is that absent the complicity of the South African judiciary … The reason I am writing this letter is that the stance you have taken in relation to the FOSMM application when properly construed has the effect of undermining the rule of law in Zimbabwe by fortifying the position that a law like the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Companies Act can be recognised and enforced as law, at all.
Mupasiri has also dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the Zimbabwean High Court challenging the government’s appointment of Gwaradzimba as SMM Holdings administrator.
He also accused Mnangagwa of personally orchestrating the demise of Shabanie & Mashaba Mines Private Limited (SMM) following a fallout between him and Mutumwa Mawere.
Mawere denied the allegations last year.