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Mnangagwa ally in US$300k coal heist scandal

Gutai Lisa-Marie Maropafadzo is said to have used hired thugs to raid the coal mining company in Harare on different occasions and the raids almost turned ugly last Thursday after clashes at the mine.

A woman, who is said to have close links to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his family, is at the centre of an alleged theft scandal involving the seizure of coke worth US$300 000 from the Chinese-run Hwange Coal Gasification Company.

Gutai Lisa-Marie Maropafadzo is said to have used hired thugs to raid the coal mining company in Harare on different occasions and the raids almost turned ugly last Thursday after clashes at the mine.

The matter was reported on Wednesday last week at Hwange Police station under Report Received Book (RRB) number 5755005.

Maropafadzo allegedly boasted that she would not be arrested because she was close to  Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) commissioner general Godwin Matanga.

The Hwange Coal Gasification Company mining site turned into a war zone  after clashes erupted when  the company’s employees tried in vain, and in the presence of the police, to stop Maropafadzo from seizing  the coke.

During the scuffles, Maropafadzo allegedly dropped Mnangagwa’s name to threaten the Hwange Coal Gasification employees against stopping her from taking the coke.

Maropafadzo and Hwange Coal Gasification Company run by Feng Guo have a business agreement where the controversial businesswoman provides security services under the company name Maropafadzo Energies on cash basis.

Authorities at the Hwange Coal Gasification Company told The Standard that Maropafadzo has been forcibly entering the company premises since Tuesday last week.

They accused her of unlawfully taking coke worth over US$300 000 under the pretext that she had an agreement with the company to do so.

The company said there was never such an agreement with Maropafadzo Energies as they pay in cash for their security services.

Matabeleland North police provincial spokesperson Glory Banda said he was not aware of the incident when The Standard contacted him for comment. 

Documents seen by The Standard show that Maropafadzo Energies was paid US$18 000 on December 29, 2023, by Hwange Coal and Gasification Company in  advance for security services rendered in January.

The company managers accused Maropafadzo of fraudulently obtaining a court order to permit her to take coke from the plant under a non-existent agreement.

The court order issued by Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Ndlovu on Thursday granted Maropafadzo permission to take 700 tonnes of coke from the Hwange Coal Gasification Company as per a  December 30, 2023 agreement between the two parties.

In her urgent  High Court application for a mandatory interdict, Maropafadzo under the name Gutai Lisa-Marie  Mutuke claimed that they agreed with Hwange Coal Gasification Company that she would provide security services in exchange of 700 tonnes of coke every month.

Officials at the Hwange Coal Gasification Company, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said they were not aware of the High Court application until Maropfadzo produced the order.

“We were never given an opportunity to oppose the High Court application but we just saw the court order granting her permission to take the coke.

“The coke she stole is estimated at a value of US$300 000,” a manager at the company said. 

“They damaged our CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras to destroy the evidence linking them to the crime.

“Lisa operates a security company which provides security services to our company, but we pay for the services in advance and we are currently up to date.”

The source added: “When our personnel tried to stop her, she ridiculed them saying she was well connected to Matanga and the President Mnangagwa himself.”

Matanga could not respond to the claims when contacted for comment yesterday.

Contacted for comment Maropafadzo said: “We have a business agreement with the company and today (Friday) we are going to have a dialogue over the matter at the police station.”

 In 2022, she was implicated in a US$5 million Cotton Company of Zimbabwe fraud scandal that involved minting millions of United States dollars from government tenders through her alleged proximity to power.

Maropafadzo, who spent 22 years in the United Kingdom before returning home after Mnangagwa took over power through a coup in 2017, is not new to scandals.

In 2015, Maropafadzo was found guilty of fraud involving over £2 000 and was sentenced to 120 days in prison,  which was suspended for two years.

She was ordered to abide by a four-month curfew to run from 8pm until 7am daily, and to pay £85 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

According to reports, she applied for a change of name in September 2020 and was granted permission to do so in January 2021.

She changed her name from Gutai Lisa-Marie Mutuke to Gutai Lisa-Marie Maropafadzo.

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