HARARE – British tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten says he is surprised at how the government ended up owning 40 percent shares in Hwange Colliery yet he had donated the shares to the people of Zimbabwe.

The government is the current biggest shareholder in the troubled mining company with 40 percent followed by Van Hoogstraten with 31 percent and other smaller shareholders.

In an interview, Van Hoogstraten who had come to give oral evidence to the Mines Committee at Parliament said he doesn’t know how the government ended up owning 40 percent shares in the struggling giant mining company.

“I have always been the second biggest shareholders after Anglo America and more recently after independence when myself and Anglo donated the 40 percent stake which government now has to the people of Zimbabwe.

“The interesting thing is that we donated at the time to the people of Zimbabwe, I don’t know about the government status but these shares were actually donated by myself, Anglo and the other shareholders the minority.

“We put the proposal in 1982 and it was effected in 1983 then at some stage they have transferred I don’t know how. It’s actually a legal matter, but the share donation was to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

The government placed Hwange under reconstruction a few weeks ago claiming they were protecting their interests in the company after turnaround efforts partially failed to produce intended results.

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Van Hoogstraten says he now regrets donating the shares because the people of Zimbabwe have not benefitted from them and even government itself has not benefitted anything from Hwange.

So dire is the situation at Hwange that the company has been posting massive losses and is weighed down by huge debts to service providers and customers. Van Hoogstraten attributed the company’s misfortunes to corruption and incompetence.

“It’s incompetence and corruption obvious; it doesn’t surprise me does it surprise you? It’s consistent incompetence and massive corruption.

“The people have definitely not benefited, the country has not benefitted,” he said.