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‘Forged’ papers emerge in gold mine deadlock

BLACKGATE Investment, the firm that is battling to win back gold claims controversially taken over by rivals, G&P Industries and Ran Mines in 2013, has pressed criminal charges against G&P directors, claiming the change was done through forged documents.

In papers lodged with the police last week, Blackgate, which says it has lost US$500 million in potential revenues due to disturbances at the Bindura-based asset, said a signature purportedly signed by former Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, Francis Gudyanga in February 2013 giving G&P the goldfields was fake.

“Blackgate Investments has an ownership dispute with Ran Mines and G&P Industries over mining concessions in Bindura,” the firm’s director, Angeline Munyeza said in a letter to Harare Central Police Station titled: “Forgery and Uttering”.

“On 06 February 2020 the accused, in pursuit to this and in an effort to mislead the ministry, forged and caused to be delivered a fraudulent letter purportedly written by then permanent secretary Pro FP Gudyanga in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. The forged document stated that it had been noted that at the time of the registration of the said claims to Blackgate Investments, the claims were current and rightfully owned by Ran Mines, G&P Industries and in light of this, Ran Mines and G&P Industries should proceed to occupy and work on the said claims.

“We have since conducted our investigation into the authenticity of this document by approaching the purported author who has distanced himself from authoring this document. In his affidavit, he has said the signature on the letter is not his although it looks like his and that he did not sign the document in question and that the document in question does not bear both his initials…,” Munyeza said.

Gudyanga, who was permanent secretary in the ministry of Mines between September 2013 and May 2017 left government in 2017.

“I wish to state that I am neither the author nor generator of the letter dated November 2013 directed to Messrs Atherstone and Cook…the signature on the letter is not mine. Although it looks like mine, I did not sign the letter,” Gudyanga said.

It is the latest twist to a deadlock that has name-dropped Zimbabwe’s late strongman Robert Mugabe and his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Fighting reached a tipping point in September last year, when G&P said it was pressing ahead to extract its first bullion at the mine in 22 years, while Blackgate warned that sinking shafts at the operation was illegal until the government made a determination over ownership.

However, official documents indicate that Blackgate holds permits demonstrating ownership to the goldfields.

In a 76-page letter submitted to Mnangagwa about a year ago, Blackgate claimed that G&P warned them to tread carefully as the asset belonged to Mugabe.

G&P is rebuilding Ran Mines, which made headlines in November 2020 after its shafts collapsed under heavy flooding.

Official documents show that Blackgate was in 2010 given full rights to mine at Ran Mines following an investigation into the dispute by a mining commissioner, who said it had demonstrated “serious commitment…to be allowed to resuscitate the old Ran Mines”.

Blackgate identified Ran Mines after previous owners left, but ran into problems after complaints that it had protruded into G&P claims, according official papers.

“It is in your best interest that I bring your attention to an issue of paramount importance that if left derelict, could derail and negate the efforts that are being made towards establishing a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 – fighting the scourge of corruption that could ultimately result in the perpetuation of the abuse of your name and family by cunning, unscrupulous individuals within society,” Munyeza in the letter to Mnangagwa.

“The dispute in question has been a prolonged one…emanating in 2008…characterised by alarming levels of corruption within the Ministry of Mines and gross abuse of the name of the late President Robert Gabriel Mugabe as well as yours and your family members. These occurrences have led us to seek clarity…and…impartial recommendation as this matter fringes negatively on your reputation and integrity as you are the chief steward of the country,” Munyeza said.

The top hierarchy at the Ministry of Mines turned down requests to respond to a weekly newspaper. Presidential spokesman, George Charamba told businessdigest last year that there was a worrying trend of conflicts over claims that the ministry has failed to address. – (The Independent)

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