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ZANU PF politician and flamboyant tycoon Philip Chiyangwa has angrily rejected charges that he is responsible for destroying companies in Bulawayo – once the country’s industrial heartland.
Through his Native Investment Africa group, Chiyangwa became a huge player in Bulawayo beginning 1998 when he bought companies such as G & D Shoes, Belmont Leather as well as the listed Zeco Holdings.
Most of the companies have since closed with Zeco, which was founded in 1964, in mortal decline.
The former engineering behemoth once supplied rail wagons to the NRZ locally as well as regionally to countries such as Ethiopia Kenya, Mozambique, and Zambia.
AS of Friday, Zeco’s market capitalisation stood at US$46,000; its share price 0.01 US cents on the local bourse.
Cue Bulawayo opposition politician and top city lawyer, David Coltart, who was the liquidator when Chiyangwa bought most of the companies in 1998.
“I don’t know how Chiyangwa made his money save for what he did to a variety of Bulawayo-based companies that he took over and drove into the ground,” wrote Coltart in a recent article.
“I also have a concern when Zimbabwe’s wealth and precious foreign currency is spent on very expensive imports such as Bentleys, Rolls Royces and the like.
“Surely our foreign currency would be better spent on vehicles made either in Zimbabwe or at least South Africa, which is on the African continent.”
He added: “I’ve no problem when wealth is made as a result of innovation, hard work and ingenuity.
“However, most of Zimbabwe’s millionaires have made their money off the back of the working class, through plunder, asset stripping and corruption.”
Not best pleased, Chiyangwa hit back.
“I’ve never bought a single operating company in Bulawayo in the sense of a going concern,” he said.
“What I simply participated in was public auctions of the disposal of assets of dead companies through the Master of the High Court, through the active direction of liquidators.
“What David Coltart is selectively failing to inform the public is that these companies had been severely stripped and run-down by their former owners, mostly the Jewish friends of Coltart who controlled the industry in Bulawayo.”
The businessman added: “For the record, I simply picked up assets way after some core and critical pieces had been cherry picked and sold away.
“Coltart doesn’t want the world to know of his role in getting without going to tender a contract with the National Railway of Zimbabwe (NRZ), which is for 80 years, and they’re still getting payments. His role in destroying NRZ needs to be publicly interrogated.”
Chiyangwa also accused Coltart of profiting from the troubled companies saying “they made good money by presiding over the liquidation of the outlined properties”.
In response, Coltart insisted that Chiyangwa could have done a better job of recapitalising and reviving the companies.
“He (Chiyangwa) took over the company, which is now dead,” said the opposition politician.
“As I recall, him and others took over companies which are now shells, go to G & D now and see. What he says is his point of view but he needs to speak to two or three people and see if they’ll agree with him.
“(Chiyangwa) had access to finance, which is what those firms needed at the time – access to capital and removal of red tape. No doubt the companies were in trouble but he could have helped.
“He never made an effort to make the companies viable despite the links he had with political power.” source-newzimbabwe
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