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Sanctions hit Tagwirei’s business empire

By Arnold Fandiso | NewsDay |

United States sanctions have begun to take a toll on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, with his Sakunda Holdings embarking on a retrenchment exercise that has seen the company operate with a skeletal staff of only 16 workers.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director at Sakunda Holdings Group Kudakwashe Tagwirei, a local partner to South African Moti Group, speaks during the launch of an Aluminothermic Plant by Zimbabwe's biggest chrome miner African Chrome Fields (ACF), which is part of the Moti Group, in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, on July 25, 2018. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP / Getty Images)
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director at Sakunda Holdings Group Kudakwashe Tagwirei, a local partner to South African Moti Group, speaks during the launch of an Aluminothermic Plant by Zimbabwe’s biggest chrome miner African Chrome Fields (ACF), which is part of the Moti Group, in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, on July 25, 2018. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP / Getty Images)

Tagwirei was slapped with economic sanctions last year, accused by the US Treasury Department of “providing support to the leadership of the Government of Zimbabwe”.

The mining and energy mogul has been accused by the US of capturing Mnangagwa’s government and profiteering on illegal government tenders.

Well-placed sources told NewsDay that Sakunda chief operating officer Mberikwazvo Chitambo and head of special projects Clement Kahiya had been victims of the exercise that has affected over hundreds of workers employed by the diversified firm.

“The effects of the sanctions have begun to weigh on Sakunda. The company has retrenched hundreds of workers, including some senior executives, Chitambo and Kahiya. The company is left with only 16 employees,” the source said.

Last year, commodities trader, Trafigura, booted out Tagwirei by increasing its stake in Trafigura Zimbabwe to 100%, from 49% after buying the 51% held by Tagwirei’s Sakunda, which also operated Trafigura’s Puma Energy fuel outlets.

Early this year, international media claimed he was now trading offshore as a way of busting the sanctions.

Tagwirei was not picking calls yesterday and did not respond to questions sent to his mobile phone.

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