Sakunda Holdings, which is owned by corruption-accused petroleum tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, will on Tuesday unveil a US$1 million-a-year deal with each club for the next three years.
The two clubs were teetering on the brink collapse after the Covid-19 pandemic robbed them of their major source of funding – gate takings.
Now they are set to get a kiss-of-life from Sakunda, which owns Puma and Trek service stations. Each club will reportedly get US$1 million every year for three years for a total sponsorship of US$3 million.
It is the biggest single financial sponsorship each club has ever received – but club executives will be bracing for tough questions for taking money from Tagwirei, who is not considered a corporate pariah after he was placed on United States and British sanctions.
The United States said Tagwirei was “notoriously corrupt” as it accused him of “materially assisting senior Zimbabwean government officials involved in public corruption.”
Government audit reports prompted a 2019 parliamentary inquiry into whether public funds were misappropriated, revealing the government had failed to account for about US$3 billion disbursed under the Command Agriculture programme, a state farm subsidy championed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and largely financed by Sakunda Holdings.
Tagwirei has used his relationship with Zimbabwe’s ruling elites to gain state contracts and receive favoured access to hard currency, especially in the Mnangagwa era.
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) executive director Sipho Malunga said: “Sakunda Holdings is notorious for so many things and has been implicated including by IMF in irregular and corrupt Command Agriculture, mining and RBZ deals. It also features in a damning recent report by Sentry that implicates Tagwirei.
“Why would Dynamos and Highlanders club executives take money from Sakunda? Every genuine supporter must resist this capture.”