Harare—Two of the three British business entities that President Emmerson Mnangagwa hosted in early October are either dissolved or facing serious financial problems, NewsHub has established.
The president bragged about the visit by the firms—Cluff Resources Limited, Germcorp and Clear Mobitel–as an indication of thawing relations between Zimbabwe and the UK.
Said President Mnangagwa when he hosted the respective delegations of the three companies at State House: “It is…noteworthy that under the Second Republic the UK continues to cultivate a new relationship based on mutual respect and trust.”
He added: “The exchange of high level visits as well as steadily increasing investments from British companies in Zimbabwe is evidence of the blossoming and recalibrated friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.”
Anywhere Mutambudzi, the chief director of strategic and presidential communications in the Office of the President and Cabinet, confirmed the identities of the firms through a post on X.
He claimed that the visits were motivated by President Mnangagwa’s visit to the UK for King Charles’s coronation in early May.
He said the visiting UK delegation included Harry and Algy Cluff of Cluff Resources Limited, Atanas Bistandjiev and Francesca of Germcorp and Harpal Mann of Clear Mobitel.
“They came to see the President at State House accompanied by local businesses. Cluff Resources had business operations decades ago and its return is as a result of re-engagement efforts bearing fruit,” boasted Mutambudzi.
But checks by NewsHub revealed that the reality is not as glossy as Mnangagwa and his communications director described it.
The UK government’s companies’ website shows that Cluff Resources Limited was dissolved on 17 January 2012.
It had been incorporated on 10 April 1985 with company number 01903902 and used 6 St James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NP as its address.
Between 10 April 1985 and 9 June 1988, it operated as Cluff Oil Holdings.
While the government website puts out a disclaimer that its information may not be comprehensive enough, further checks did not establish any business currently being carried out by Cluff Resources Limited.
A company called Cluff Minerals that says on its site that it has been in operation for at least 40 years in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali predates Cluff Resources Limited.
Another London-headquartered company, Cluff Energy Africa Limited that says it operates under the Cluff Group of Companies has no distinct ties with the entity that was hosted by President Mnangagwa in October.
It says it is an oil and gas exploration company that started operating in the 1970s in countries that include Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.
“We are focusing on assets primarily in West Africa with a focus on Sierra Leone as well as Zimbabwe with a strategy of acquiring low cost assets which can be brought into production quickly and efficiently,” notes the company, which, however, is not the same as Cluff Resources Limited that Mutambudzi identified.
The Cluff Energy website creates some confusion because, in its “About Us” section, it suddenly switches its name to Cluff Oil.
Cluff Oil is the one that, in 1980, discovered major gold mines in Zimbabwe, among them Freda Rebecca Mine.
This company names Algy Cluff—who met with Mnangagwa last October—as its chairman and chief executive officer, and there is no mention of Cluff Resources Limited.
Another company mentioned by Mutambudzi, Clear Mobitel Limited that registered under company number 07067025, is described as dormant as at 30 November 2021.
The company, whose given address is Office 11, Navigation Business Centre, Mill Gate, Newark, England, NG24 4TS and has interests in wired and wireless telecommunications activities, has two confirmed officers.
These are the director, David Anthony Holder who was appointed on 1 June 2020, and the chief executive officer, Harpal Singh Mann appointed on 5 November 2009.
Mann was in Zimbabwe as part of the delegation of British investors that met President Mnangagwa at State House.
Available details show that a final notice gazetting the dissolution of the firm for the second time was issued on 14 April 2021.
On 24 April in 2016, the firm had been dissolved via a compulsory strike-off before it applied for a restoration that allowed new registration on 5 January 2018.
The firm is on record declaring its accounts dormant. Its balance sheet as at 30 November 2021 signed by the two directors, Mann and Holder, showed a 1 euro balance and the firm was entitled to tax exemption under section 480 of the Companies Act of 2006.