Tongaat dodges govt directive

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NEGOTIATIONS between government and Tongaat Hullet’s Zimbabwe operation on a suitable indigenisation plan have stalled further amid indications the sugar firm is dodging compliance with the country’s empowerment laws.

Taurai Mangudhla

Businessdigest is reliably informed Tongaat turned down government’s directive for a launch of a community share ownership trust (CST) in Masvingo, saying it could not be part of an initiative to which it is opposed. The company is said to have refused to fund the launch celebrations.

The call for the immediate formation of a CST under Masvingo province’s biggest company is believed to have been instigated by President Robert Mugabe who wanted to officially open the trust and gain political mileage.

Mugabe’s involvement comes after protracted and fruitless negotiations between the two parties with the foreign-owned sugar manufacturer refusing to yield to government’s demands.

Initially, government had pushed for the CST launch in the first week of November 2012, but the company resisted.

Information gathered by businessdigest indicates Zanu PF politburo member and former Masvingo governor Dzikamai Mavhaire has been moving around the province telling foreign companies, including Triangle, not to panic when approached by state officials over non-compliance.

Impeccable sources say the companies have taken Mavhaire’s advice after the politburo member assured them they had the protection of Vice President Joice Mujuru, a development that could spark a row in the already faction ridden Zanu PF.

However, Mavhaire denied the allegations, saying he had no control of such administrative work.

“I am in full support of Indigenisation. Besides, I have no power on these matters because I don’t sit in parliament or cabinet,” Mavhaire said in a telephone interview. “The ministry (of Indigenisation) has all the powers so why can’t they use their authority to indigenise the companies?”

He said Bikita Minerals, in which he has interests, had complied with the indigenisation law through a proposal which included formation of a community share trust which currently awaits certification.

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