Mr. Tapuwa Chitambo, one of the founders and the Secretary General of the Friends of SMM (FOSMM) asks a rhetorical question: “With parliamentarians like we have, who needs a parliament?” to highlight his frustration that since independence, the parliament of Zimbabwe has been reduced to a talking shop and rubber stamping institution for laws that undermine the promise of constitutionalism.
Mr. Chitambo born on 8 August 1980, the year of Zimbabwe’s independence, was also the co-founder of Zimbabwe Activists Alliance and a Co-Convener of an initiative by a Churches and Civic Society organisation that culminated into a National Indaba on the Socio-Economic and Political situation in Zimbabwe.
He is a holder of a diploma in Mass Communication from Mutare Polytechnical College and has completed a few online courses in Ecology with a Sierra College in Nevada, USA.
FOSMM is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in mid-June 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
“I was a founding member and the idea behind FOSMM of a grouping of active Zimbabweans fighting for constitutionalism and the restoration of the rule of law using the facts and circumstances of SMM, gave me inspiration to be engaged.
Prior to this, I was an active member of the Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy that was founded in October 2015 by Hon Mliswa following his dismissal from ZANU-PF,” said Mr. Chitambo.
He further said that: “Prior to the formation of FOSMM, I must admit that I was ill-informed about the affairs of SMM and the reasons behind the placement of the company under extrajudicial administration.
The first part was for me to acquaint myself with the Reconstruction Act and the facts and circumstances leading to the decision by Hon. Chinamasa to issue a reconstruction order in relation to SMM. My understanding at the time based on what was in the public domain was that the acquisition of SMM’s parent company, SMM Holdings Limited, a company incorporated in England, by Africa Resources Limited (ARL), a company beneficially owned by Mr. Mawere, was financed with a government guarantee and that the failure to pay the alleged acquisition loan led to the reconstruction. However, as facts were brought to my attention, it was clear that there were no facts supporting the submission by Hon Chinamasa to parliament in 2005 that the purchase of SMM was financed directly or indirectly by any government guarantee.
This led me to dig deeper into the matter resulting in a group of us deciding to use SMM as an example of why constitutionalism matter or ought to matter.”
The Reconstruction Act was passed by parliament in 2005 or six months after the placement of SMM under the control of Mr. Afaras Gwaradzimba pursuant to the operation of a decree promulgated by President Mugabe on 6 September 2004.
This is what Hon. Chinamasa had to say in an affidavit that he deposed in support of a chamber application for a judicial confirmation of an order that he had issued in relation to SMM without a law providing for it:
“The Reconstruction Act came into force on 4th March 2005.
The Reconstruction Order that I issued in terms of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies) (Regulations, 2004 (published in Statutory Instrument 187 of 2004) (“the Reconstruction Regulations”).
At the time that I issued the Reconstruction Order there was no provision in the Reconstruction Regulations which required me to seek confirmation of a reconstruction order by a Judge or Court.”
“It is clear from the above that it was Hon Chinamasa and not a Judge or Court that issued the Reconstruction Order in relation to SMM.
He also admitted under oath in a an affidavit presented to a Judge that there was no judicial involvement at all in the issuance of the order in relation to SMM and all that was required was for the Court after the act to confirm a binding order whose effect was to divest the shareholders of the company of their right to appoint and remove directors,” said Mr. Chitambo.
He also said that: “The role of the parliament of Zimbabwe in 2005 to condone the actions of Hon. Chinamasa and proceed to enact a law in which the judiciary is subordinated as a matter of fact and law to the Executive in relation to the issuance of orders must be a source of concern to anyone who wishes Zimbabwe well. This Act has been in existence and operation for the last 14 years and clearly no single person in Parliament sees no evil in a law that poses so grave a threat to the rule of law as this one.”