THOUSANDS of hectares of farm land continue to lie derelict on the Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi, six years after businessman Billy Rautenbach’s still-born attempt to set up an ethanol-manufacturing plant in the area.
Herbert Moyo/Tatenda Chitagu
Rautenbach subsequently set up the plant in the Chisumbanje area of Manicaland province amid claims by the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) that political bickering is to blame for the failure of the ethanol project to kick-off.
“Lack of unity within political leadership structures… manifested itself when some of the political leaders within Masvingo took the position that the project cannot go ahead because the whole of Nuanetsi ranch is targeted for the resettlement of people from Tokwe-Murkosi,” wrote Charles Madonko, the DTZ Nuanetsi resident director in an emailed response to questions from the Zimbabwe Independent.
“DTZ had offered, through Agriculture minister Joseph Made, that the need to resettle people can be achieved by designing the programme around the canal route to be constructed when drawing water from Tokwe-Murkosi.”
He added: “At the technical levels, both the investment and resettlement of people could be achieved.
However, effectively this matter became a subject of bickering among leaders and there was no concerted effort to address the technical issues of water and the illegal settlers so as to instil investor confidence.
“These factors combined to effectively undermine investor confidence. The investment blueprint was very relevant to the needs of our people but the supervisory political environment was not,” said Madonko.
Green Fuel general manager Graeme Smith and spokesperson Lilian Muungani told the Independent during a tour of the Chisumbanje plant in November last year that Green Fuel plans to open up a second plant at Nuanetsi.
However, a visit two weeks ago to the site of the failed 2008 project along the Ngundu-Triangle road, showed desolation with rows of dilapidated unfinished houses that Rautenbach had started to construct for some of the families that would be partners, growing sugarcane for use in the manufacture of ethanol. Offices and a workshop lie idle.