via Mliswa defends $165m ‘extortion’ bid 30/03/2014 NewZimbabwe
ZANU PF legislator Temba Mliswa has defended pursuing businessman Conrad “Billy” Rautenbach over some $165 million in “facilitation fees” for helping link the tycoon with influential ruling party officials.
According to the Herald newspaper, Mliswa, Zanu PF’s Mashonaland West provincial chairman, claims to have helped arrange meetings for Rautenbach with Didymus Mutasa and other top party leaders to help smooth the way for lucrative business deals.
Rautenbach is said to have initially paid Mliswa various monthly sums for the “facilitation” but later abruptly stopped the payments, forcing the MP to threaten legal action through his lawyers.
The deals include the controversial Green Fuel Arda Chisumbanje ethanol project where Rautenbach claims to have invested US$650 million. Mliswa demanded US$65 million for helping facilitate the investment.
In letters from attorneys seen by the Herald and written between 2010 and 2011, Mliswa also demanded US$100 million for a platinum concession in the Midlands province which he claims Rautenbach sold to Anglo American Platinum who have since developed Unki Mine at the site.
The MP claims Rautenbach grossed about US$1 billion from the Unki deal alone. Mliswa also demanded payment for helping him to move into Hwange Colliery.
“It is true (that I demanded the payment). He (Rautenbach) looked for me and he got me involved. I took him to every high-ranking official he knows today in Government,” said the MP.
“I was part and parcel of it. He said my shares cannot be made public because I am a Zanu PF politician and he will not get funding. He used to pay me. He has stopped and I took the legal route.
“He then confronted high-ranking officials in Government for me to withdraw my papers. I took him to Chisumbanje (in) a helicopter. What did he think I was doing in that helicopter risking my life? It was not a free ride.
“He (Rautenbach) tried to send people for me to settle everything out of court but I refused. Government is dealing with a criminal, and as a legislator I cannot allow that.
“It is not about me wanting his money but Government understanding that it is dealing with a criminal. Right now he should account for a Government platinum claim that he sold to enemies of this country at Unki.”
Asked which top officials he approached on behalf of Rautenbach, Mliswa said: “The person who was then Minister of Mines and Mining Development (Dr Obert Mpofu) and my uncle Didymus Mutasa.”
“I was aware of that but I did not try to assist anyone. I do not know what you are trying to say and I do not have anything else different to tell you,” said Mutasa, who is presidential affairs minister and Zanu PF administration secretary.
Mliswa claimed he was awarded the contract to develop Arda Chisumbanje but approached Rautenbach because he did not have the capital.
Regarding the Midlands platinum concession, the legislator said: “He got it under Toddal. He speculated and sold it and that is the money he used to set up the ethanol plant at Chisumbanje.
“I am not fighting him. I have to protect my country from dealing with criminals. He used the country’s resources to make money. It is a crime as he never remitted the money.”