ZANU-PF chefs scramble for assets

Source: ZANU-PF chefs scramble for assets | The Financial Gazette May 25, 2017

  • Properties around Tokwe-Mukosi Dam targeted

ZANU-PF bigwigs are rubbing their hands in glee, ready to pounce on prime commercial land around Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo in what could turn out to be yet another scandal benefiting the nouveau-riche in the governing party.

The Financial Gazette can reveal that heavyweights in ZANU-PF and business people sympathetic to the ruling party are hustling to lay their hands on enormous opportunities presented by the completion of the massive inland lake, constructed in Chivi District at a cost of US$300 million.

Conceptualised almost 90 years ago, the 1,8 billion mega-litre Tokwe Mukosi Dam is seen changing the face of the drought-prone Chivi District by opening new business frontiers that would uplift surrounding communities.

Earmarked to support the dam, whose construction started in 1998, are irrigation schemes, tourism enterprises such as hotels, lodges, restaurant and recreational activities such as boating rowing, fishing and canoeing, not to mention other upstream and downstream ventures that depend on these enterprises.

Scores of fresh jobs are expected to be created, as a result, generating new sources of revenue for the cash-starved fiscus, currently living from hand to mouth.
Highly-placed sources said the huge capital outlays involved in bringing some of these enterprises to fruition has led some of the politicians to consider looking beyond Zimbabwe’s borders for resourced partners whose investment thresholds in the greenfield projects would be restricted to less than 49 percent in line with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, although its provisions could be waived.

The dam has also attracted the attention of Angolan President, Eduardo dos Santos’ billionaire daughter, Isabel, whose interests span across oil, telecommunications, mining and tourism.
Ranked by Forbes Magazine as the richest woman in Africa with a net worth of US$3,5 billion, dos Santos has made contact with President Robert Mugabe’s administration through Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister, Shuvai Mahofa, amid indications that powerful ZANU-PF politicians were angling to become her local empowerment partners.

A coterie of other investors, including those from South Korea, ranked the 11th largest in the world and the fourth largest in Asia have also made enquiries.
Investors are mostly interested in an island located in the middle of the vast lake, said to be free from swamping even if the dam fills to capacity.

The island has potential to be a prime tourist attraction where a hotel could be built.
Contacted for comment, Mahofa confirmed meeting investors from all “over the world”, including the daughter of dos Santos, Isabel and South Koreans.

She, however, dismissed reports that ZANU-PF chefs were in the running for the projects.
“Yes, it is true. We have met her (Isabel) and the Koreans. We have said to them they should wait for us to finish our planning and once we are done, they will be free to come and negotiate with us,” said Mahofa.

“We meet so many investors on a daily basis. Some call us, some come here physically. We have told them that we would come back to them when we have finished our planning. It’s good that they are coming and we are actually appealing to the media to help us market the dam”.

Interestingly, a development committee, made up to high-ranking ZANU-PF officials has been established to determine the kind of investors to be accommodated in the non-farming businesses around Tokwe-Mukosi Dam.
The committee is chaired by the ruling party’s Gutu Central legislator and Politburo member, Lovemore Matuke, who is deputised by ZANU-PF Masvingo provincial chairman, Ezra Chadzamira.

Representatives from Masvingo’s administrative districts, seconded by party districts, complete the committee. Mahofa confirmed the existence of the committee, saying it will work closely with the provincial lands committee in identifying and allocating projects.

Ideally, this should be the role of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), born out of the merger of the Export Processing Zones Authority and the Zimbabwe Investment Centre to create a one-stop-shop for quicker and easier investment. ZIA’s mandate is to promote and facilitate both foreign direct investment and local investment.

This week, Matuke thumbed his nose at ZIA saying his committee would only work with people who would have been approved by the ZANU-PF leadership.
“Our committee doesn’t operate on its own; we have leaders at the top who recommend people we can work with. We are a bit on the technical side,” he said.

Reports also suggest that government could move thousands of people from their villages in Chivi and Mwenezi District to pave way for the establishment of a 25 000-hectare irrigation scheme for which the dam was primarily built.

Villagers within the vicinity of the dam are therefore seething with anger amid fears that they could completely miss out on the planned projects.
Among the irate villagers are 20 000 people who were removed from the dam site during construction who were temporarily settled at Chingwizi Camp.

Talk has it that the settlers at Chingwizi Camp have been forgotten, as ZANU-PF heavyweights are now prioritising their own interests at their expense.
Mahofa claimed this week that the villagers would be the first beneficiaries of the irrigation scheme.
She said: “I am actually coming from a meeting in which I emphasised that these people will be the first to benefit from the irrigation scheme. So they should be rest assured because they will be first to benefit.”

Observers said politics of patronage should have no place in Zimbabwe.
If Tokwe-Mukosi is to be a success story, the investment rule book needs to be followed to the letter.
Economist, John Robertson, said the setting up of a committee of politicians to lead the process was an affront on investment.

“That’s the sort of thing that prevents investment. The last thing real investors would want is someone trying to use their political privilege to make money saying people who want to invest should come to me. Once we do that, we make it very difficult for investors and they will say we are better staying away,” said Robertson.

“I would advise government to start making an investment plan. Investors are attracted by good planning. That area needs a good business plan and once we have that plan, we can sit back and let investors compete on their own. Projects of that nature need planners who are able to imagine what could happen in the near future and plan projects around the dam, which will attract investors who are willing to stay,” he added.

Economist, Kingston Kanyile, said priority should be given to locals, followed by partnerships with external investors.

“We will never realise the full value of that dam if local people are left out,” he said. “Let us give locals the right of first refusal and balance that out with the aspirations of foreign investors.”
Kanyile said if the local political leadership were to be involved, it should be through ZIA, for transparency purposes. newsdesk@fingaz.co.zw

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar
    I am not the one 5 years ago

    A dam in the middle of a dump and people are dreaming of untold riches…..very sad.
    Dream on, as any person or country with real money goes where their money makes them more money and they dont care about any local benefit unless there are ulterior motives, in which case it will turn very ugly.