President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s adviser, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, is a name-dropping wealth accumulator who has amassed a fortune on the back of weak governance systems and buying the silence of politicians, investigators and journalists, the Zanu PF Youth League said on Monday.
Tagwirei’s alleged corrupt business practices straddle fuel, mining, transport, retail, and construction, the youths said at a news conference curiously held at the Media Centre in Harare, and not the party headquarters.
“We are in a ship where some individuals are busy drilling holes for it to sink,” Youth League political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu told the news conference called to name corrupt businesspeople.
“The reason we are doing this is to pile pressure on authorities to act,” added Lewis Matutu, the League’s deputy secretary, even as he warned that such was Tagwirei’s influence they might lose their positions in the party. “We have prepared ourselves for this, whatever the consequences it doesn’t matter, the message has been sent. This has nothing to do with politics, it’s an issue of young people protecting their future.”
Matutu insisted that Mnangagwa was “definitely not captured” by Tagwirei, the local partner of Singapore commodities firm, Trafigura, through his Sakunda Holdings company.
Matutu also batted away suggestions that outing Tagwirei was an attack on Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who recently admitted in an affidavit filed in ongoing divorce proceedings from his wife that Tagwirei gifted him a US$75,000 Mercedes Benz E350 for his personal use, and that he also received a US$120,000 Lexus LX 570 under the government’s opaque Command Agriculture programme bankrolled by Tagwirei’s Sakunda Holdings.
Describing Tagwirei as “the cause of our suffering and poverty”, Matutu said: “How is it that he is the supplier of fuel; he runs Command Agriculture… he’s everywhere? Even the money on the streets (parallel market) is his. How does an individual go to banks to withdraw US$500,000 cash, to do what?
“As far as we are concerned, the majority of our problems come from this person called Kuda Tagwirei. He’s the source of our problems. Our challenge is that he pretends to have someone’s protection… so, we have come here to shake the tree to see if someone will come to its rescue.”
Tagwirei, a recluse who shuns the media spotlight, is a “merciless man who doesn’t even have a heart,” Matutu charged.
“If you look at what’s happening in our country, the effort that’s being made by the government, and then you have a man taking advantage of that effort just to enrich himself, we have a problem,” Matutu said.
The youths also called out Grain Millers Association chairman Tafadzwa Musarara and Green Fuel boss Billy Rautenbach for alleged corruption in the maize meal supply chain and fuel blending respectively.
Said Matutu: “Musarara is there in the importation of maize, he’s there in the milling and he’s there in the selling of mealie-meal. But there comes the problem. There’s more maize meal on the black market than on supermarket shelves.
“The government is subsidising the price of mealie-meal, but you can’t get it from the shops. You tend to wonder what’s taking place. He can’t continue to accumulate wealth, while the population is suffering. Him and a clique of white people that he’s working with, I think they must just stop what they are doing.”
Tsenengamu said Rautenbach was enjoying a monopoly in blending petrol and ethanol, which the government has decreed to be mandatory.
“Why him alone?” asked Tsenengamu. “Why is Billy enjoying that monopoly, on top of that overpricing his ethanol to a point that fuel prices are unaffordable? Why are we creating opportunities for just one man to get rich at our expense? We have to ask if this is what our liberation war heroes died for; was it so that just a few people can eat on behalf of everyone else?”
The Zanu PF youths have previously released a list of allegedly corrupt individuals, prompting Mnangagwa to establish a Zanu PF committee to investigate. Matutu said the committee had never met, and no action had been taken.
Tsenengamu claimed a company linked to Tagwirei, which he did not name, had bought several mines across the country – including Jumbo Mine in Mazowe, Freda Rebecca Mine, Trojan Mine in Bindura and Shamva Mine.
“When he arrives there, he tells the shareholders that he is working with so and so, lying,” Tsenengamu said, before adding that Tagwirei typically claims to be fronting Mnangagwa or Chiwenga.
Tsenengamu said Tagwirei also had a company called PanJap, which was involved in importing government vehicles, but was now a conduit for importing vehicles for his car sales in Harare duty free.
“Let’s say there’s a government scheme to import vehicles, let’s say a 100 vehicles. He will import 40 cars for the government, and then 60 for himself. He’s working with a guy named Brighton,” Tsenengamu claimed.
Another of Tagwirei’s companies, Fossil Agro, is deeply involved in the government’s Command Agriculture, an opaque farmers’ support scheme in which a parliamentary committee says the government lost US$3 billion without trace.
“When the government said Command Agriculture will now be run through CBZ bank, Tagwirei followed and CBZ is now his. The government said fuel should no longer go through PUMA, but Trek… Trek is his,” Tsenengamu charged.
He claimed Tagwirei was also enjoying a monopoly in road construction through a company called Fossil Contracting where he was using Obey Chimuka as a “front”.
“He also has another company called Sotic International, which he is using to loot platinum. Let him come out and deny,” Tsenengamu continued. “Then there’s another company called Landela, which is into pharmaceuticals and cooking oil. When hospitals run out of medicines, he’s the one who supplies.”
Tsenengamu also claimed Tagwirei was an active player on the foreign currency black market, where he is allegedly employing a Congolese woman named only as Danya.
He added: “Let him come out and deny, let him say we are lying and we will release all the V11s (evidence). Why we are saying this is not because we hate an individual, but imagine here is a guy who controls a pipeline that brings fuel into the country, and yet there’s no fuel in the country. He’s everywhere.
“Tagwirei is doing these things, and he’s getting this money from the RBZ. Why do they continue to give tenders to one person? We can’t be arresting small time forex dealers in the street, while leaving the RBZ vault open to Tagwirei.”
Tsenengamu said there was no correlation between the money spent by the government on Command Agriculture, and the output.
He added: “If you go to Tagwirei’s car sales, you will find top-of-the range vehicles he brought in through PanJap, under the guise of importing Command Agriculture vehicles. You will be shocked.
“This is happening because those in authority have allowed it. This is where we are also now asking leadership, to say you must choose whether you stand with Kuda, or stand with the people.”