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Mnangagwa & Ramaphosa’s Shadow Games: A Tale of Power, Corruption, and the Quest for Justice

Peter Smith



In the entwined realms of law, politics, and business, certain narratives emerge as vivid portraits of the intricate dance between power dynamics, governance, and moral compasses. “Shadow Games” is one such narrative.

Origins of Conflict: Alleged Rifts and Uncharted Territories

The story begins in Zimbabwe in 2004, where an alleged and untested political rift developed between two formidable figures: businessman Mutumwa Mawere and politician Emmerson Mnangagwa, as conveyed by Mr. Edwin Manikai’s account expressed in a WhatsApp message dated March 21, 2021.

Struggle for Corporate Control: Mnangagwa’s Rise and Mawere’s Allegiances

Mawere, through his wholly-owned British Virgin Islands (BVI), acquired significant stakes in various companies, including SMM Holdings Limited (SMMH) and THZ Holdings Limited, fostering his business empire. Meanwhile, Mnangagwa, a rising star in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, was poised as a likely successor after the death of Vice President Simon Muzenda.

Allegations and Political Manipulations: Mawere’s Missteps and Mnangagwa’s Moves

According to Manikai’s allegations, Mawere’s purported mistake was siding with former Vice President Ms. Joyce Mujuru, leading to his estrangement from Mnangagwa and his allies. The narrative weaves further, suggesting that Mnangagwa, backed by late President Robert Mugabe, exploited this political rivalry for personal gain.

Power Play and Legal Maneuvers: Mnangagwa’s Actions against Mawere

This conflict escalated into a power struggle, with Mnangagwa leveraging his political influence to orchestrate government action against Mawere. Mnangagwa staged a corporate court, invoking emergency powers through a statutory instrument to seize control of Mawere’s flagship company, SMM.

Manipulation of Law: The Reconstruction Act and Mnangagwa’s Ascension

Mnangagwa’s manipulation extended to the creation of the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act, a law granting him sweeping authority over companies he deemed suitable for his corporate coup. This maneuvering paved his path to power, undermining the rule of law.

Aftermath and Ongoing Debates: Questions of Accountability and Justice

The fallout was immense: multiple companies ceased to be related to Mawere, shareholders’ rights were stripped, and the rule of law seemed suspended in the face of Mnangagwa’s orchestrated authority. The case traveled through Zimbabwean courts for nearly two decades, with a captured judiciary validating Mnangagwa’s actions.

Diplomatic Implications and Comparative Culpability: Ramaphosa and Holomisa

The diplomatic implications of Ramaphosa’s request to remove US sanctions, juxtaposed with his protection of Mnangagwa, are complex. While some see it as a sign of cooperation, others view it as a betrayal of reform. The comparison of culpability between Ramaphosa and Holomisa is subject to debate; Ramaphosa’s position and actions as president heighten his responsibility, while Holomisa’s role in parliament also prompts questions.

Broader Implications: Rule of Law, Abuse of Power, and Accountability

This case triggers vital public policy and international law inquiries, spotlighting concerns about the rule of law, power abuse, and government intervention in the private sector. It stands as a testament to the critical role transparency and accountability play in business dealings.

A Cautionary Tale: Unchecked Power and the Fight for Justice

Beyond its legal dimensions, the story unfolds as a cautionary tale of the perils of unchecked power and the determination to pursue justice against all odds. The saga of Mnangagwa as a dominant figure serves as a stark reminder of the need for balanced governance.

Lessons and Aspirations: Shaping a Just and Equitable Future

The case underscores that even in countries with strong rule of law traditions, power can be abused by those in positions of authority. It underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in business dealings and the necessity of robust institutions to safeguard citizens’ rights.

Conclusion: Embracing Debate and Shaping Africa’s Future

As the story of “Shadow Games” continues to unfold over nearly two decades, its debates and discussions offer invaluable lessons for shaping a more just and equitable future for Zimbabwe and Africa. It is a reminder that the struggle for justice, even against overwhelming odds, remains a beacon guiding societies toward progress.


An alleged and untested allegation is that Mupasiri, when he learned that what could have triggered the chain of events that unfolded when he was 22 years old could have been avoided in the interests of justice under the rule of law, did write a letter dated November 8, 2021, to Manikai to establish the veracity of his version, whose effect was to undermine public confidence in relation to the conduct of an oath-taking President like Mnangagwa.

Mupasiri could not understand the content and context in which a non-political actor like Mawere, who was a non-resident of Zimbabwe and also not a member of ZANU-PF, could possibly have been involved in any politically-centric rift with Mnangagwa since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence, and has been in public service at the Ministerial rank.

Mupasiri is a member of the Africa Heritage Society (AHS) and also a member of the Friends of Shabanie and Mashava Mines Trust (FOSMM), an initiative used by the Justice Under Rule of Law (JUROL) and JUROL Leadership Institute (JLI) to provoke, promote, ignite and inspire active citizenship in Africa with the aim of enhancing citizen vigilance and holding power to account for its exercise, Mupasiri was inspired by s. 2(2) of the constitution of Zimbabwe that states that it is the constitution that imposes binding obligations on every person to ensure that no one is above the law as seems to be the case in the Mnangagwa v the Rule of law facts using the birth and prosecution of the Reconstruction decree and associated order by a circle of actors in Mnangagwa’s secretive and closed-knot circle.

Mupasiri then wrote a letter dated November 9, 2021, to verify Manikai’s account, suggesting that Mnangagwa was the driving mind and force behind the demise of Mawere’s business empire.

Both Manikai and Mnangagwa refused, failed, and neglected to respond to Mupasiri’s letters, and this led him to make a formal court application in terms of s. 167(2)(d) as read with s. 167(3) of the Constitution, seeking the constitutional court, a court with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine the constitutional validity of the alleged conduct, practice, and custom of President Mnangagwa, a presumed rising star in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and also a presumed favorite of the late Mugabe as his chosen successor, had allegedly maneuvered to harness power by leveraging his political influence through invalid and unlawful means.

Mupasiri wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth whether the cloud that had been placed on Mnangagwa was correct or not.

It is in the public domain that a strategic use or abuse of emergency powers and legal instruments was used by Mnangagwa to dismantle Mawere’s corporate empire, setting off a chain reaction that severed his control over various companies.

The pretext for these actions was the indebtedness of Mawere’s companies to the state, although the criteria for “state” and the legitimacy of the debt were questionable. Mnangagwa’s orchestration of corporate restructuring revealed the dark underbelly of power politics and the fragility of the rule of law.

As stated above, it is common cause that the Reconstruction Act was used to create a nexus between the government of Zimbabwe and Chinamasa to enable Chinamasa to issue a limiting reconstruction order with the same force and effect as a judicial order. Mnangagwa, a lawyer, Chinamasa, a lawyer, and Manikai, also a lawyer but in private practice, would and should have known better that acting on the basis of fabricated evidence would be conduct that falls within the ambit of abuse of public power for ulterior motives.

Notwithstanding the limitations imposed by the doctrines of separation of powers and equality, they escaped the scrutiny of the Zimbabwean judiciary in about 23 cases, as represented by President Mnangagwa when he was boasting about the fact that the Rule of Law is his law.

The dispute ostensibly involved Mnangagwa vs. the Rule of Law, and as it unfolded, diplomatic intricacies emerged, with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa advocating for the removal of US sanctions against Zimbabwe while simultaneously sheltering Mnangagwa.

This raises critical public policy and international law questions about Ramaphosa’s commitment to justice and accountability in the face of political alliances.

In the broader context, the case underscores the fragility of the rule of law and the need for transparent governance. It reveals the potential for abuse of power, even within nations with established legal frameworks. The case also underscores the importance of fostering transparent business practices and robust institutions that safeguard citizens’ rights.

At its core, “Shadow Games” serves as a cautionary tale about unchecked power, the pursuit of justice, and the complexities of governance. As we reflect on this narrative, we are reminded of the ongoing struggle for accountability and the imperative to shape a more equitable future for Zimbabwe, Africa, and beyond.

Take notice of the submission made on behalf of the JUROL Leadership Institute (JLI) which is promoting JUROL as a vehicle to promote and protect constitutionalism and the rule of law in Africa: https://heyzine.com/flip-book/898ea364e6.html.

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