Mutapa is taking full control of Kuvimba, just as new procurement exemptions make room for more state enterprise deals

One of Kuvimba's operations, Bindura

Zimbabwe’s state sovereign wealth fund, Mutapa, has now acquired all of the state mining company Kuvimba Mining House in a bid to end speculation about its ownership.

Kuvimba holds some of Zimbabwe’s best mining assets, some of which were once owned by a company controlled by businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei. The government has never given details of how they came to fall under its control other than to say they were acquired for an undisclosed amount. Kuvimba was, in 2021, said by the government to be 65% state-owned with 35% of it being held by private investors, later described as a management consortium. Mutapa Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund, initially took over the 65% held by the government and has now bought the rest, said Simba Chinyemba, Kuvimba’s chief executive officer.

“The speculation was unhelpful and the fact that that speculation did not die out despite us presenting the evidence of the structure of Kuvimba” complicated its dealing, Chinyemba said in an interview. “If there are questions about your shareholding then potential investors would want to think a little bit deeper about investing.”

Chinyemba said he was one of the beneficiaries of the buyout and that Tagwirei had never benefited from its operations, which include nickel and gold mines and lithium and platinum deposits. He wouldn’t disclose the amount paid for the 35% or when the transaction was completed, but said it was “very fresh.”

Kuvimba’s Mutapa empire

Kuvimba owns Great Dyke Investments, which now controls 100% of the Darwendale platinum project. Kuvimba has been seeking new investors to revive the project, which stalled after Russian partners moved out in 2022. The company’s multiple attempts to find new partners, including a reported approach to Implats, failed due to uncertainty over the project’s ownership.

This week, the government gazetted controversial regulations that exempt Kuvimba and a selected group of state enterprises from public procurement regulations. This is meant to allow these companies to sell stakes to new investors, a Treasury official told newZWire. Last year, government was criticised for granting a similar exemption to the Mutapa fund. George Guvamatanga, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, insisted that this was necessary to make the fund “quick and efficient” on investment decisions.

Kuvimba owns Bindura Nickel Corporation, the country’s biggest nickel miner, and Freda Rebecca, Zimbabwe’s largest gold producer. The company is also seeking investment to get the Sandawana lithium project off the ground.

Government has also given procurement exemptions to companies such as AFC Bank, the Infrastructure and Development Bank of Zimbabwe, TelOne, and RBZ’s arms Aurex and Home Link. The procurement exemption has been criticised by some commentators, who fear it may protect these companies from scrutiny.  

Bloomberg/newZWire

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