Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Zanu PF chefs plan to grab ethanol project

Zanu PF chefs plan to grab ethanol project

Sunday, 11 March 2012 10:49


THE US$600 million Chisumbanje ethanol project is threatened with collapse 
as Zanu PF chefs, including Cabinet ministers, demand free shares in the 
lucrative venture under the guise of indigenisation.

Sources close to the project told The Standard last week that powerful 
people who include MPs, Cabinet ministers and other top government officials 
(names supplied) were demanding free shares for themselves so as to 
facilitate the smooth flow of the project.

“The sharks have realised the potential of the project and their mouths are 
wide open, ready to pounce,” said one of the sources. The ethanol project is 
a partnership between the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority 
(Arda) and Billy Rautenbach’s Green Fuels, Rating and Macdom Investments in 
a 20-year Build-Operate-and-Transfer (BOT) arrangement signed in 2009.

The source said some politicians were claiming Rautenbach, who was born in 
Zimbabwe and is linked to Zanu PF, was not indigenous, hence he has to cede 
51% shareholding to them in accordance with the indigenisation and economic 
empowerment act. “He is Zimbabwean, but of the wrong colour,” said the 

Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere 
yesterday professed ignorance that there were sharks waiting to grab free 
shares in the project.

He however, added that a ministerial committee had been set up to look at 
the issue of the indigenisation of the multi-million project.
“Discussions are still taking place but I am not yet aware of people 
interested in the project,” he said.
State Enterprises and Restructuring Agency executive director, Edgar Nyoni, 
recently told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and 
Parastatals that the government was considering transforming the deal from a 
BOT into a joint venture project.
Company officials fear over 5 000 jobs are under threat after production 
stopped almost two months ago after the plant reached its 10 million litres 
storing capacity.
Last week, 20-worker representatives travelled to Harare, where they sought 
audience with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Energy and Power Development 
minister Elton Mangoma and Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation 
Development minister, Joseph Made, who is chairing a ministerial committee 
on Chisumbanje.
The workers fear the project could collapse like the still-born Reserve Bank 
of Zimbabwe bio-diesel project in Mount Hampden or Kondozi farm which 
crumbled after government ejected its white owners.
Officials on the other hand, are worried that the parent ministry has not 
shown visible support for the project despite its magnitude.
Although Tsvangirai has visited Chisumbanje, minister Mangoma has reportedly 
not set foot at the ethanol project which is one of the biggest investments 
in the country since 1980.
Mangoma could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was not 
available since Friday.
But it has since emerged that a council of ministers will tomorrow discuss 
the contentious issue of the introduction of mandatory fuel blending in 
Zimbabwe. The issue will also go before full Cabinet on Tuesday, sources 
“It is only after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that we will know our fate. 
We are prepared to make presentations and argue our case before cabinet,” 
said another source.
Most of the over 400 fuel service stations in the country have not yet 
embraced ethanol blending, dubbed E10. Some of them have no capacity to hold 
three product lines, while others are reluctant to introduce the product 
because they were smuggling or clandestinely importing fuel already blended, 
revealed an oil industry insider.
The insider also blamed poor marketing for the current low acceptance of E10 
which is now a hit in countries such as Brazil and Europe. South Africa is 
proposing the mandatory blending of bio-fuels with petrol and diesel which 
is expected to boost sorghum output sixfold.
Rautenbach and Green Fuels spokesperson, Lillian Muungani, could not be 
reached for comment.


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