JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South African mining magnate Zunaid Moti on Thursday denied reports that he had fallen out with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a development that was allegedly threatening his US$300 million chrome mining investment in Kwekwe.
Moti said his relationship with Mnangagwa, who was reportedly pivotal in the millionaire playboy tycoon entering Zimbabwe, was “not soured but sweet”.
The Moti Group chairman spoke after media reports in Botswana and Zimbabwe claimed he was sponsoring the opposition in both countries – the UDC in Botswana and the MDC in Zimbabwe.
“The relationship with President Mnangagwa has been based on solid principles of friendship and mutual respect, and the recent media articles will not deter us from building on that solid foundation,” Moti said in a statement.
“I am and will continue to work with the government of Zimbabwe, and the President, to strengthen the economy of Zimbabwe in many years to come. African Chrome Fields remains our largest long-term investment in a foreign country and is there to stay.”
Moti denied reports emanating from Botswana, based on a purportedly intercepted phone call, in which he is reported to have asked the other unidentified individual on the line to arrange for MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Tendai Biti to meet him in Johannesburg.
“I wish to categorically state for the record that I have never held any meetings with the two (Chamisa and Biti) personally or otherwise whether in Zimbabwe or my home in South Africa,” Moti said.
He insisted that he was an “avid supporter of the principles of democracy as well as a free market economy based on transparency and social equilibrium.”
He said he had no adverse intentions against the ruling parties in Zimbabwe and Botswana, but maintained that his investments in the SADC region only “make sense where the political leadership is aligned to principles of democracy and a free market economy.”
Moti, who was inducted into the African Leadership Awards Hall of Fame in July 2018, added: “As someone who cares deeply about development of Africa as a whole, and the SADC region specifically, it is important to me that democracy is strengthened across the region specifically, it is also important to me that democracy is strengthened across the region, and that people elect ethical leaders who care about them and countries they lead.
“Simply put, development and business thrive well in a democratic and free space.”
Two weeks ago, Moti reportedly sent emissaries to Harare for meetings with Mnangagwa and senior government officials as he looks into ways of resuming operations at his African Chrome Fields mine just outside Kwekwe, which is currently closed.