Mwana Africa's Shareholder Vote

Issue 128, June 2015

Continued from Page 1 ➤

...but was swiftly voted off the board after just 5-months, allegedly after demanding an executive position.

“He was appointed to the company to perform a role and he decided that role didn't suit him,” Mpinga says. “The board overwhelmingly decided to ask him to leave.” Citing “unfinished business,” Wellesley-Wood has returned to the fray as the most prominent member of a dissident group, holding 5.1 per cent of Mwana's stock. “This is not about revenge,” he has said.

The episode eerily echoes a prior chapter in his career, joining South Africa's DRDGold in 2000, before accusing chairman Roger Kebble of illicit share dealing. Wellesley-Wood took the chairman's role, whilst Kebble spent a night in a police cell, before landing in court before 38 counts of fraud.

Supporters say Wellesley-Wood saved DRD and that accusations against him, including claims that he gunned for $1m in options as Mwana's chairman, are “smoke and mirrors,” though it is undeniable that he has a taste for bloody clean-up campaigns. “He's got a chequered past,” one former colleague says. “I think there's no hiding that.”

Sour Grapes

Mpinga defends Mwana's Zimbabwean directors, a chartered accountant with links to the government and the former president of Zimbabwe's chamber of mines. “There's no doubt that those two individuals have a level of gravitas and relevance to our business in Zimbabwe.” Mpinga says. “It is not going to go down very well.”

The battle he blames on “sour grapes” that stemmed from the company's decision to retrench from London to Africa, lowering its overhead from $8.5m to $6.4m last year. “The big earners were let go,” one analyst explains.

“They are very difficult circumstances in very difficult countries,” Kalaa Mpinga says. “We were consumed by staying alive in the Zim-dollar environment, which we managed to do quite successfully, but as we dollarised, then the nickel market collapsed. We've been listed since 2005 and I guess, in the past ten years, we have gone through hell and back."

“He’s got a chequered past. There’s no hiding that.”

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