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ZANU-PF chefs scramble for assets

By Andrew Kunambura

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.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Masvingo Shuvai Mahofa
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Masvingo Shuvai Mahofa

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.

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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. Financial Gazette