Fighting intensifies over ‘Solomon’s mine’

The majority shareholders of River Ranch diamond mine, dubbed ‘Solomon’s Mine’, have reportedly snubbed an indigenisation offer by the Mujuru family, and are instead approaching the government directly about selling their shares.

Solomon Mujuru
Solomon Mujuru

The family of the late army General Solomon Mujuru has been wrangling with the Dubai-based Rani Investment for control of the River Ranch mine in Beitbridge. This fight escalated and moved in a new direction last week when Rani Investment, headed by the Saudi-based tycoon Adel Abdul Rahman al Aujan, said it was now negotiating with Zimbabwe’s government for the sale of its stake in the mine.

Rani Investment is the majority shareholder in Limpopo Resources, a company that owns 80% of River Ranch, in which the Mujuru family holds a 20% stake.

In April 2004 Mujuru controversially took over River Ranch, with the help of his then ally Al Aujan, a millionaire Saudi real estate developer. But it appears that this relationship has soured, and there is speculation about the links between the end of this relationship and the end of Mujuru’s life.

Media reports sayMujuru and Al Aujan had been embroiled in a war over plans to indigenise the diamond mine. An indigenisation plan done before Mujuru’s death reportedly also revealed the two had a public falling out last May.

Mujuru died the night before he was due to travel to Beitbridge with Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere to finalise the plan. Rani Investment has now stated its intentions to sell its shareholding to the government, not to the Mujurus.

Allegations have been made that the mine is being used to launder some of the diamond plunder from contracts in the DRC, secured by Mujuru and his allies. This is because their production numbers don’t tally with revenue.

The Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe refused to buy the diamonds from this mine some years ago, but Mujuru flexed his muscles in the Zanu (PF) Central Committee and had the entire board replaced.

The previous owners of River Ranch, Adele and Michael Farquhar, were forced off the property by police at gunpoint. Despite the courts passing judgement in their favour, Mujuru continued to occupy and mine the area. In February 2010, Adele’s brother, Richard Amyot, and his wife, Tecla, were murdered.Police ruled it a murder-suicide but investigations by the family disputed these findings. – SW Radio Africa News

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