Penhalonga mine wrangle: Workers demand reversal of licence given to ED’s reported ally

February 17, 2022

Brenna Matendere

Workers at Redwing Mining Company in Penhalonga, Manicaland province, have written a letter to the company’s authorities seeking reversal of a tribute agreement entered into with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged ally, Scott Sakupwanya.

Sakupwanya is a gold miner whose company, according to the central bank, contributed some seven tonnes of the mineral in 2021.

The letter dated 15 February 2022, obtained by Grazers News, was addressed to the mine’s legal advisor, Rynos Gumbo, and the interim corporate rescue practitioner, Knowledge Hofisi.

Phanuel Mukadiwei, the chairperson of the Associated Mine Workers Union and Friday Sokisi, signed off the letter representing the Redwing employees.

In the letter, the workers demanded that Sakupwanya’s Betterbrands Mining Company have its tribute agreement signed by Hofisi cancelled.

“The awarding of the Tribute Agreement to Betterbrands Mining Company was done without consultation and subsequent approval of the creditors committee. It flies in the face of corporate rescue plan which was voted for on the creditors meeting of September 9 2021…

“In view of the above, we hereby instruct you…to cancel the current agreement signed between him (Hofisi) and Betterbranbds Mining Company immediately,” reads part of the letter.

The creditors meeting of 9 September 2021 held in Harare resolved to kick out Betterbrands Mining Company out of Redwing mine and then look for new investors with financial muscle to boost operations at the gold-rich mine.

In their letter, the workers threatened to pursue legal action if Sakupwanya’s company continued to operate at Redwing.

“The minutes of the meeting of 13 January 2022 on part 3.7, states that Redwing employees supported the handover of the mine to Betterbrands. This is grossly untrue and you yourself (legal advisor Gumbo) can attest to it…” wrote the workers.

Centre for Research and Development director, James Mupfumi alleged to Grazers News that the state had a hand in supporting Betterbrands’ continued operations at Redwing.

“It is extremely disappointing that Zimbabwe continues to endure a government that colludes with well-known criminals in mining syndicates to plunder the country’s wealth at the expense of citizens’ rights to development from exploitation of their resources,” he said.

“The letter (by workers) is clear evidence of the judiciary and an executive arm of the state that are conspiring in a secretive project to grab Redwing Mine and steal the mineral resource for personal benefit. It is yet another example of how the executive manipulated state institutions to loot diamonds in Chiadzwa,” said Mupfumi.

Hofisi, the Redwing mine corporate rescue practitioner was not available for comment as his mobile phone was unreachable. However in previous interviews he has said he is doing everything above board to rescue the mine.

Recently the workers at Redwing protested against the continued presence of Betterbrands at the mine against a creditors’ vote that upheld sacking of the company.

Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba recently warned Sakupwanya against using Mnangagwa’s name to gain advantage in his personal business ventures.

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