23 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Locals Want a Symbiotic Relationship With Green Fuel

THE community in Chisumbanje wants parliament to promote a procurement model instead of the indigenisation approach on the ethanol producing project, saying it will bring more benefits to locals.

Government, through the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) will assume a controlling shareholding in the project in line with the indigenisation law that stipulates that locals should have at least 51% shareholding in all businesses with a net asset value of US$500 000 or more.

Initially, the project was a 20-year build, operate and transfer arrangement between Arda and Billy Rautenbach's companies -- Macdom and Ratings.

Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa recently told parliament that all companies should comply with the law after Hurungwe West legislator, Temba Mliswa asked whether the ethanol project was immune from the empowerment law.

A local pressure group, the Platform for Youth Development (PYD), said the 51:49% model was unworkable after the chaos unearthed in community trusts, where pledged money was never injected.

"Parliament has a duty to combat corruption by actively promoting a procurement model that comes from an all-stakeholders model as was already installed in Chisumbanje but is being stifled by Zanu PF politics. Community share ownership trust will be a white elephant unless insulated from politics," PYD director Claris Madhuku said.

"Villagers are urging Green Fuel to benefit the community through procurement tenders."

Madhuku said PYD would continue lobbying for the community to be outgrowers. This would enable peasant farmers to enter into arrangements with Green Fuel to plant sugarcane with the company providing the market.

"... local players are prepared to get trained in skills that will enable them to provide Green Fuel with products like safety clothing, furniture and spare parts that make local players producers and the company the market," he said.

Madhuku said the tone in parliament concerning the Chisumbanje ethanol plant must be about benefitting the community.

He said government had a role to play, having been the beneficiaries of the current 10% mandatory blending and it was time attention was focused on the community.

"As PYD, our mandate is to represent the voiceless villagers in Chipinge who have assured us that if [community is] excluded, all avenues from engagement to confrontations shall be adopted to deal with those standing in our way," he said.

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