31 January 2019

Zimbabwe: ED Hires Controversial Oil, 'Forex' Dealer Tagwirei As One of His Advisers

Photo: John Manzongo/The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa with Kudakwashe Tagwirei at the burial of the businessman’s father, Sekuru Phineas Tagwirei, in May 2018. Vice President Constantino is on the left.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has drafted into his newly announced Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), controversial oil mogul, Kudakwashe Tagwirei who was recently implicated in a massive foreign currency scandal.

The "non-partisan" 24-member PAC also includes newspaper businessman Trevor Ncube, owner of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) which publishes Newsday and weeklies; The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent.

The group also comprises eminent academics, business people and members of the clergy.

Econet's mobile money transfer subsidiary, Ecocash chief executive, Natalie Jabagwe is part of the group.

Also on the list is seasoned business executive Busisa Moyo, Divine Ndhlukula, Joe Mutizwa, Zondo Sakala, Lewis Maxwell Musasike and Norbert Mugagwa.

The group also comprises Godfrey Sikipa, Remigius Makumbe, SImbarashe Mangwegwende, Lindiwe Sibanda, Aenias Chuma, Edwin Manikai and Sam Malaba.

Janah Ncube, Mfaro Moyo, Simon Hammond, Richard Wilde as well as academics Kuzvinetsa Nzvimbo and Robson Mafoti are in the PAC, which also comprises top businessman and cleric Shingi Munyeza as well as Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary general Rev Kenneth Mutata.

The members, according to a publication released Wednesday, were appointed based on experience, expertise, leadership, contacts and will standing in society.

However, the appointment of Tagwirei, who is CEO and director of Sakunda Holdings Group, would most likely set tongues wagging.

Tagwirei, a Mnangagwa ally, was October last year accused by Zanu PF apologist William Mutumanje, aka Acie Lumumba, of being at the centre of a forex and fuel cartel that included top Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials.

War Veterans chair Christopher Mutsvangwa claims that Tagwirei was now a source of divisions within government corridors after being preferred, ahead of the rest, for huge forex allocation by the central bank.

Meanwhile, commenting on the new council, MDC-T deputy president Obert Gutu questioned the bloated number of Mnangagwa advisors saying this could be another avenue to haemorrhage the country's scarce resources through perks.

"I would think a smaller group of presidential advisors would be more appropriate," he told NewZimbabwe.com.

"We also don't know their terms of reference. Are they paid a regular retainer fee or what?

"This obviously has got budgetary implications and in the interest of transparency, the CVs of all members of the team have to be made public. We don't want another jobs for the boy or girls scenario."

MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said this could be a waste of time and resources as the President was most likely to ignore the advice of his team.

"Do they have his ear, can they change anything?" asked Mafume.

"It's another group of people who will get fuel and other perks due to accessibility to the President."

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