Mutumwa Mawere's Empire Crumbles Further
Senior SMM management have, however, asked the Government of National Unity (GNU) to forgive Mawere and allow him to return to Zimbabwe.
Last year Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara, who is a signatory to the GNU, pleaded with President Robert Mugabe to allow Mawere, a one-time Zanu PF henchman, to return scott-free.
Mawere fled Zimbabwe after his mining empire was taken away from him by President Mugabe’s Zanu PF government in 2004.
He was accused of among several other issues, owing the State huge sums of money and being a sellout.
However, Mawere maintains that he was being victimised by Zanu PF goons who were “trying to grab” his mining empire.
Now more than 1 000 workers at SMM have been sent on forced leave until further notice because management claims “the mining empire has no money and is facing viability problems due to low asbestos prices and huge electricity costs”.
Gaths Mine, the largest underground mine in Mashaba, is failing to settle a US$1 million electricity bill.
SMM is Zimbabwe’s largest asbestos producer.
“You are advised that with effect from 1 February, 2010, you are all advised not to report for work due to viability problems,” read part of the letter sent to cash-strapped workers on January 25, 2010.
“Persistent power cuts and lack of funding have affected the company resulting in serious cash flow problems.”
Management have appealed to the Government of National Unity ((GNU) to forgive Mawere and allow him to return to Zimbabwe and continue running his empire.
“We are appealing to government to look for investors to chip in or just allow former owner Mutumwa Mawere to come back,”a senior manager said.
“Under funding, low asbestos prices and power cuts have affected business.”
The senior SMM manager confirmed that half of the workforce had been sent on forced leave until “the situation improves”.
Government-appointed administrator, Alfias Gwaradzimba, has remained tight-lipped on the issue.