GOVERNMENT is planning to set up a sugar milling company in the Lowveld after failing to buy one of the country’s biggest sugar estates, Tongaat Hulett, NewsDay Business can report.
South Africa’s Tongaat Hulett was placed under business rescue in 2022 after raking up debts of R7 million following an accounting scandal.
In July this year, the business rescue practitioners announced that they planned to sell Tongaat operations, including those in Zimbabwe, to Kagera Sugar of Tanzania.
But the government, according to reports, had put in a bid to take over the estates through the Sovereign Wealth Fund, now Mutapa Investment Fund.
In a statement yesterday, the Industry and Commerce ministry made a call for local and international investors to bid for the development of a new sugar mill in the Lowveld.
The mill is expected to benefit farmers in the region who are looking for alternative millers for their cane.
“The Industry and Commerce ministry is inviting local and international investors to bid for a solicited development of a new sugar mill in the Lowveld,” the notice read in part.
“The mill is to benefit the multitude of farmers in the region who are looking for alternative sources of milling. The government is available to receive proposals in this regard.”
Tongaat’s operations, which include Hippo Valley, account for over 50% of Zimbabwe’s sugar output.
Government has partnered Tongaat and local banks on Project Kilimanjaro, to open up 4 000 hectares of virgin land for sugarcane production.
NewsDay Business understands that under this arrangement, the government selects the growers who will get the land.
Hippo Valley Estates head of corporate industry affairs Dahlia Garwe told our sister paper Standard Business that the firm has donated the Project Kilimanjaro land to the government.
“There are no developments on the project so far. The company donated the Project Kilimanjaro land to the government of Zimbabwe. We are informed that the government has now finished allocating land and will be advising the concerned farmers soon,” Garwe said.
Garwe stated that the company will be working together with the government to assist the newly-resettled farmers to develop the land.
“At this stage, there are no challenges as the land now belongs to the government. We will be assisting with development of the land and provide technical assistance to the newly-resettled farmers,” she said