21 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Mandatory Blending of Ethanol Conditional

Mandatory blending of ethanol from Chisumbanje will be implemented once Government agrees on a shareholding structure with the investor, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said. He said Government was finalising the transition of the project from a Build Operate and Transfer to a joint venture where the State would partner the investor, Macdon and Ratings owned by business tycoon Billy Rautenbach. DPM Mutambara said this while responding to a question from Kwekwe MP Mr Blessing Chebundo (MDC-T) who wanted to have an update on the progress with regards to mandatory blending.

"As Government, we said BOT arrangement was not in our national interest," he said. "You cannot do mandatory blending for a private business, it should be a joint venture so that every Zimbabwean benefits.

"The mandatory blending is conditional, it will be done when we move from BOT to a joint venture. We will sign a memorandum of agreement with the investor once we agree. That is work in progress."

DPM Mutambara said issues to be determined were what equity the investor should take, but in the end the project should comply with indigenisation laws of the country.

He said political fighting had almost threatened the smooth running of the project, but Government swiftly moved in to rein in the situation.

A Cabinet inter-ministerial committee, which DPM Mutambara chaired, set up a district implementation committee comprising all stakeholders, but the holding of meetings by the committee were being stalled by a district administrator.

He said this incensed villagers who invaded the property, resulting in their arrest in December last year.

"There were no meetings because a DA had an instruction from one politician to disregard the committee," said DPM Mutambara. "He had an instruction to disregard Cabinet and the DPM and this was insurbodination."

Principals to the inclusive Government, said DPM Mutambara, subsequently directed Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatious Chombo to intervene and reprimand the DA.

"We had a problem where certain warlords defied Cabinet and the DPM," he said. "There were political warlords, godfathers who were influencing a lowly DA. We must not allow partisan political aspirations to affect the project. Defeat is not part of our agenda.

"The problem at Chisumbanje is politics. There is fighting among political parties to get political capital from the project. The way we have dealt with it is inclusion and we have succeeded. We have included everybody."

Police in the area, said the DPM, did not help matters as they sided with the investor and "connived to arrest villagers".

"The police were behaving in a criminal manner, conniving to arrest villagers and acting as agents of the investor. That is unacceptable. We have put a full stop to that. This will ensure that the DA and the police will not be used. Now there is order in Chisumbanje."

On compensation for the villagers, DPM Mutambara said that would to a large extent be made possible once the plant at the project resumed work.

Government has since promulgated a Statutory Instrument for mandatory blending of petrol with ethanol.

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