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Fuel mogul splits Mnangagwa's govt

by Staff reporter
31 Oct 2018 at 07:37hrs | Views
Businessman Kuda Tagwirei, has triggered off fresh fissures within Zanu-PF and government, with the Sakunda Holdings founder wittingly or unwittingly driving a wedge between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and some of his allies over the tycoon's unsettling influence.

A fierce war is brewing behind the scenes for control of Zimbabwe's fuel industry pitting President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga's allies following a bid by a South African firm to break the Sakunda monopoly, it has been revealed.

Investigations have revealed that the fuel scandal that exploded last week was linked to plans to construct a second pipeline to move the commodity from Beira, Mozambique, by the South African company linked to Mnangagwa's allies.

Sakunda boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei, whose company controls the Beira-to-Harare pipeline that supplies Zimbabwe with most of its fuel, is allegedly resisting the construction of the second pipeline that will go as far as Botswana.

Tagwirei, a Zanu-PF benefactor, is allegedly arguing that his company recently invested US$11 million in the refurbishment of the Beira-Feruka oil pipeline and does not want the Sakunda monopoly broken.

The businessman's stance has allegedly put him at loggerheads with Mnangagwa's allies, who are pushing for the new pipeline deal with South African fuel giant Mining, Oil and Gas Service (MOGS).

The fight has turned political and pits Mnangagwa's allies against those of Chiwenga, who is said to be fighting in Tagwirei's corner.

Mnangagwa and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, it is understood, have hatched a plan to break-up Trafigura Zimbabwe's stranglehold on the fuel industry. Fuel gets by far the biggest weekly foreign currency allocations at the RBZ, with the lion's share - some 70 percent - going to Singapore-registered Trafigura, which last year bought into Sakunda Supplies by acquiring a 48,79 stake through its South African subsidiary, Puma Energy Africa Holdings.

Mutumanje, unleashed, accused Trafigura of running a fuel cartel. When it was time for the RBZ to release forex for fuel, executives at the apex bank ran around like headless chickens fearing the "fuel mafia", he claimed.

He hinted that the alleged fuel cartel was using government protection through an exclusive agreement with the RBZ signed in 2016, and their near monopoly, to manipulate prices which were sharply higher than in the region although countries like DRC and Zambia get their fuel through Zimbabwe.

Ncube believed the Reserve Bank should have no business running fuel allocations for private companies and wants protectionist policies restricting imports lifted to drive down prices, Mutumanje said.

Mutumanje spoke just hours after Kudakwashe Tagwirei, the CEO of Trafigura Zimbabwe and owner of Sakunda, joined Chiwenga at his homestead in Wedza for a "thanksgiving mass." Chiwenga loyalists, almost exclusively from the Mashonaland Provinces, attended the event.

Mutumanje claimed Zimbabwe was controlled by an individual he named as "Queen Bee", after the honeybee matriarch for whom all activities in the hive are for her benefit.

He claimed he had met Queen Bee at the house of former Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere a few times, and that this Queen Bee had also sponsored Grace Mugabe's rallies before her husband, President Robert Mugabe, was overthrown in a military coup last November.

Two sources in the know told ZimLive that the individual Mutumanje was referring to was Tagwirei.

"The mistake that many are making is to look at Mutumanje as an excitable irritant with no plan. On this occasion, he's the stalking horse of both Ncube and Mnangagwa. When the arrests failed, they chose to take it into the public domain, pretty much labelling the RBZ four as enemies of state. Mangudya was then activated to begin the internal inquiry," a source familiar with the manoeuvres said.

On Monday, Chiwenga is said to have told Ncube to sack Mutumanje. A letter had been drafted, but the minister was reluctant to sign it.

"An attack on Tagwirei is an attack on Chiwenga. They have other joint interests in chrome mining for instance. It's deeply personal and factional and there could be a lot more twists and turns on this saga," our source said.

Source - zimlive-dailynews