Sakunda hits hard-times as sanctions bites resulting in massive retrenchments

Kudakwashe Tagwirei

OIL firm, Sakunda Holdings (Sakunda) has embarked on a massive retrenchment exercise, a move which has seen the company laying off most of its workers and leaving a skeleton staff of only 16 employees at its Harare head office.

Sources close to the developments say the company is facing serious operational challenges after it was slapped with sanctions by the United States government last year.

Sakunda is owned by tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who was also indicically placed under US sanctions for his apparent cozy relations with Zanu PF.

According to sources close to the diversified firm, Chief Operating Officer Mberikwazvo Chitambo and Head Special Projects Clement Kahiya have been affected by the retrenchment exercise.

“Sakunda is finding the going tough. The company has been hit hard by the sanctions. Many have been retrenched, including its senior executives in Chitambo and Kahiya. The company is only left with 16 employees,” one of the sources said.

The US placed businessman Tagwirei and his firm Sakunda Holdings under sanctions over his support for the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration that it accuses of perpetrating gross human rights violations.

The step had long been expected after Tagwirei received repeated public criticism from American diplomats, leading to his long-time partners Trafigura buying him out in 2020.

In imposing sanctions on Tagwirei and Sakunda Holdings, the US Treasury Department said Tagwirei has been sanctioned “for providing support to the leadership of the Government of Zimbabwe”.

Efforts by to get a comment on latest developments from Tagwirei drew blanks as he did not respond to questions sent to his mobile number.

Sakunda was allegedly involved in the handling of about US$3 billion allocated under the Command Agriculture programme which cannot be accounted for.

However, a parliamentary inquiry later established that Sakunda actually received US$1 billion. – Newzim