Wesizwe Pt plagued by more scuffles

[miningmx.com] — DISGRUNTLED members of the Bakhubung-Ba-Ratheo community, which owns 17.9% of Wesizwe Platinum, filed an urgent court application halting the platinum company’s annual general meeting (AGM), the second consecutive time the annual meeting has been plagued by internecine battles.

At issue was who had the right to vote the shares of the Bakubung Community Development Corporation and those of the company, Newshelf 925, at the AGM.

The meeting was set to take place this morning, but the shareholders and management was surprised to assemble for less than 10 minutes as the announcement was made by Wesizwe Platinum chairperson, Dawn Mokhobo.

Wesizwe’s outgoing CEO, Mike Solomon, said the conflict within the Bakhubung was a tragedy that needed to be urgently resolved.

“This sideshow has unfortunately been attracting more attention from everyone more than the fact that we are building a mine,’ said Solomon.

Despite the postponement of the AGM, he said he was pleased the court had been called into action.

“We need to establish who the legitimate voters are so we can carry on with running the business. This court application will force the parties involved to come to a resolution,’ he said.

Mokhobo said she was concerned about the Bakubung’s internal squabbles as the community shares being fought for represent broad based black economic empowerment.

“The issue appears to relate to concerns around whether the community shares have been alienated into the hands of third parties, where the shares are, and who has the right to vote these shares. This is an issue which is of vital importance to Wesizwe and we welcome the court process to bring resolution to this matter.’

Musa Capital, a private equity firm with 15 years experience, was appointed by the community in 2007 and has been central to the disputes.

The company claims there are governance issues at Wesizwe and a succession leadership struggle within the community and it is being used as a “weapon” in both fights.

“Musa was hired to help the community diversify its investments away from the single Wesizwe asset,” it said in a statement.

“Had the community held on to its Wesizwe shares, which have declined from over R9 a share to around R1.60 per share today, the community would now have shares around R200m with little or no cahs or other assets.”

Musa added that the Bakubung community was three times wealthier today than it would have been without its services.

“The community has approximately R160m in cash, approximately R350m in profitable investments and voting control of nearly 144m Wesizwe shares. The community’s indirect ownership of these shares is currently worth approximately R130m and fluctuates with Wesizwe’s share price.”

In addition, it said, R35m had been invested in community programmes and projects.

However, Mokhobo said she was not pleased that the company’s AGM had been disrupted again.

“This is an issue which is not of our making but has a serious impact on Wesizwe. We urge the shareholders to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.

“We have a fantastic project which can deliver great value to our community, our shareholders and the country and we need to be able to get on with it,’ she said.

The application was filed against the administrator of the Traditional Council of the Bakubung-BA-Ratheo, the Bakubung-BA-Ratheo Traditional Council, Musa Capital Advisors, the Bakubung Community Development Corporation, Deutsche Bank and the Industrial Development Corporation amongst others.