HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa yesterday launched an astonishing attack against Zanu PF benefactor Kudakwashe Tagwirei, claiming that he is now a source of divisions in the presidium.
By Everson Mushava
Mutsvangwa also revealed that Tagwirei was being given preferential treatment in the allocation of foreign currency for the importation of fuel, which he said had created a monopoly in the fuel industry.
The war veterans’ leader and one of the president’s top allies’ outbursts come amid reports that relations between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga have become sour.
Tagwirei, who owns Sakunda and has several controversial deals with the government, was thrust into the vortex of the infighting last week after Zanu PF apologist William Mutumanje, aka Acie Lumumba, claimed he was at the centre of a fuel cartel that included top Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials.
RBZ governor John Mangudya suspended four directors from the apex bank citing Mutumanje’s “exposé”.
Mutsvangwa was accused in some quarters of being the brains behind the “leak” of the alleged intelligence report linking Tagwirei to illegal foreign currency deals and a fuel “cartel”.
However, the former minister yesterday denied working with Mutumanje before launching an unrestrained attack on Tagwirei.
“He is dividing the presidium. How can a businessman have preferences in the presidium?
“That is trying to turn the country into a banana republic,” Mutsvangwa said, without clarifying Tagwirei’s leanings in the presidium.
“Tagwirei’s business gets about US$80 to US$90 million every month for fuel from the RBZ, yet many companies, some of them largest fuel dealers in the world, want to come and invest in the fuel industry in the country.
“You can ask [Energy] minister Joram Gumbo. There are many who want to come. We can’t have a whole country for one man.”
Mutsvangwa claimed most of the foreign currency given to Sakunda was being sold on the black market to repay the RBZ through the real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system.
“One of the optimal conditions to attract investment is free competition. The RBZ is not a source of capital. Tagwirei relies on RBZ foreign currency allocation and claims to be a businessperson. I don’t respect such businesspeople,” he said.
“I know what I am saying. I have been fighting (former president Robert) Mugabe over creating an oligopoly since 2015 when this whole thing started.
“I can’t be faulted for moving against a monopoly and the whole country is against him. My crime is historical, for enlightening the Pope.”
He added: “I am the one who brought in a tobacco company from China, which has generated billions for the country.
“I also took small-scale gold miners to China and they are doing well, generating foreign currency, but the money is given to Tagwirei, why?
“Tobacco and gold are the two major sources of foreign currency. I also fought hard for chrome to be sold.
“All the hard-earned foreign currency is given to the RBZ and John Mangudya gives it to Tagwirei. Why can’t he go in the market to source his own foreign currency?
“How can someone have a business model that relies on RBZ foreign currency allocations? Taking from Peter to give Mary?
“If tobacco and gold producers can retain the money they raise, they can do better with it.”
Mutsvangwa said the RBZ was the nerve centre of the economy and for a just society, it should not allocate foreign currency to businesses.
“Taking money from panners and giving them digital dollars, phantom money while giving Tagwirei, whose business is simply to sit before a computer and invoice the RBZ, some hard dollars is just being cruel on Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mutsvangwa said he had nothing to do with Mutumanje’s “leaks” because he had been out of the country since September.
“Now that the public knows the truth, it is good. Tagwirei should simply tell the people what he has been doing with the money he was allocated by the RBZ and what makes him merit more allocation than others,” he said.
Mutsvangwa accused Tagwirei and Trafigura, a Singaporean company, of causing havoc on the economy.
“All the problems Zimbabwe has been experiencing centre around fuel,” he said.
He claimed that Tagwirei was involved in “oligopoly politics” and Trafigura was bent on capturing the state.
“The day his father died, the whole army went there, the whole government was closed,” he said.
“I was outraged, a single person closing government business; this is a sign of inordinate power. Where does it come from? “We want to know who is backing him.
“He should tell us how he ends up at the front queue of the RBZ, the political power behind him.
“I am against the whole philosophy of allocation of foreign currency and when the country had cholera, [Econet boss]Strive Masiyiwa provided $10 million, and when the country has a fuel crisis, Sakunda wants to cash in.
“He is using public infrastructure.
“How can a pipeline and underground fuel reserves built by the country end up being run by a private individual?
“Why does he invoice in hard currency for a facility that belongs to the country?
“With its facilities, Zimbabwe should be a regional hub of fuel but for 20 years, it has had artificial shortages of fuel when it has the third largest facility in the world.”
He claimed Tagwirei sponsored Norton MP Temba Mliswa in the last elections to keep him out of government because he was speaking against the Sakunda “oligopoly”.
Mutsvangwa said the command agriculture programme being bankrolled by Sakunda was meant to facilitate state capture.
“Where have you found the army grow food for the population in the world? I was opposed to that,” he said.
Tagwirei was not answering his phone yesterday when this paper tried to seek a comment on the allegations. The businessman is believed to be very close to Chiwenga. – The Standard