By Daniel Chigundu
Diversified business tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten says he is surprised at how government ended up owning 40 percent shares in Hwange Colliery yet he had donated the shares to the people of Zimbabwe.
The government of Zimbabwe is reportedly the current biggest shareholder in the troubled mining company (Hwange) at 40 percent followed by Van Hoogstraten and others respectively.
In an interview, Van Hoogstraten who had come to give oral evidence to the Mines Committee at Parliament said he doesn’t know how government ended up owning 40 percent shares in the giant mining company.
“I have always been the second biggest shareholders after Anglo America and more recently after independence when myself and Anglo donated the 40 percent stake which government now has to the people of Zimbabwe.
“The interesting thing is that we donated at the time to the people of Zimbabwe, I don’t know about the government status but these shares were actually donated by myself, Anglo and the other shareholders the minority.
“We put the proposal in 1982 and it was effected in 1983 then at some stage they have transferred I don’t know how, it’s actually a legal matter, but the share donation was to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
The government placed Hwange under reconstruction a few weeks ago claiming they were protecting their interests in the company after turnaround efforts partially failed to produce intended results.
Van Hoogstraten says he now regrets donating the shares because the people of Zimbabwe have not benefited from them and even government itself has not benefitted anything from Hwange.
So dire is the situation at Hwange that the company has been making gross losses, has huge debts to service providers and customers and Van Hoogstraten attributed the company’s misfortune to corruption and incompetence.
“It’s incompetence and corruption obvious; it doesn’t surprise me does it surprise you? It’s consistent incompetence and massive corruption.
“The people have definitely not benefited, the country has not benefitted,” he said.
He, however, said he has trust in the new dispensation thrust and open for business mantra adding that there have been some high levels of intentions along that line of thinking.
“I believe and support that Zimbabwe is open for business I believe that is the intention of the new administration and they are doing the right things,” he said.