Tagwirei slapped with US sanctions

SAKUNDA Holdings boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei was yesterday slapped with sanctions by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) for supporting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration tainted by human rights abuses and corruption.

Fidelity Mhlanga

Ofac announced yesterday sanctions on Tagwirei, who controls several companies straddling across all spectrums, saying its action corresponds with the second anniversary of the Zimbabwean government’s violent crackdown against its citizens who were protesting against delayed announcement of the 2018 presidential election outcome, which resulted in the deaths of six civilians on August 1.

“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) designated Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei (Tagwirei) for providing support to the leadership of the Government of Zimbabwe, as well as Sakunda Holdings for being owned or controlled by Tagwirei,” United States deputy secretary of the Treasury Justin G. Muzinich said.

“Tagwirei and other Zimbabwean elites have derailed economic development and harmed the Zimbabwean people through corruption. The United States supports the economic well-being of the Zimbabwean people and will target repressive and corrupt acts and graft by Zimbabwean politicians and their financiers.”

The US said Tagwirei has utilised his relationships with high level Zimbabwean officials to gain state contracts and receive favoured access to hard currency, including U.S. dollars. In turn, Tagwirei has provided high priced items, such as expensive cars, to senior-level Zimbabwean government officials.

“Tagwirei, a Zimbabwe businessman, has longstanding associations to the ruling party in Zimbabwe and high-level Government of Zimbabwe officials, including the current President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and First Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who were listed in the Annex to Executive Order (E.O.) 13288 in March 2003, and the Annex to E.O. 13391 in November 2005, and remain on Ofac’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List),” Ofac said.

Since former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s 2017 departure, Tagwirei used a combination of opaque business dealings and his on-going relationship with Mnangagwa to substantially grow his business empire.

Government audit reports prompted a 2019 parliamentary inquiry into whether public funds were misappropriated, revealing the government had failed to account for $US3 billion disbursed under the Command Agriculture programme, a state farm subsidy championed by President Mnangagwa and largely financed by Sakunda Holdings where Tagwirei as the CEO is responsible for the overall strategy and direction of the company, as well as developing and maintaining relationships with regulators and clients.

“Tagwirei was designated pursuant to E.O. 13469 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, the Government of Zimbabwe, any senior official thereof, or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13288, E.O. 13391, or E.O. 13469. Sakunda Holdings was designated pursuant to E.O. 13469 for being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Tagwirei,” Ofac said.

As a result of US Treasury’s designation, Tagwire’s property and that of Sakunda holdings will be blocked and reported to Ofac.

“All property and interests in property of this individual and entity that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to Ofac. Ofac’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated person,” Ofac said.

Beginning in March 2003, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has used its authorities to identify, disrupt the activities of, and promote accountability for persons who commit human rights abuses, engage in corruption, or undermine democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.

“Treasury joins the U.S. Department of State in urging the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, rather than using public resources to blame Zimbabwe’s ills on parties other than its corrupt elite and the institutions they abuse for their personal benefit. Today’s actions continue to demonstrate the importance of Treasury’s sanctions authorities and the United States’ on-going commitment to supporting a transparent and prosperous Zimbabwe,” OFAC said.

Sanctions on Tagwirei and Sakunda holdings come after Trafigura who had partnered with Tagwirei in the lucrative fuel industry bought him out earlier this year.

Landela Mining Venture, reportedly linked to Tagwirei, is making moves to take over and revive four idle state-owned gold mine.

Landela has been on a buying spree of local mining assets since 2019.

Landela Mining was last year announced as a partner in a US$4 billion platinum venture in Zimbabwe that is backed by Russian investors.

Sotic International Ltd, a Mauritius-based firm linked to Tagwirei , bought a 74,73% stake in Bindura Nickel from Asa Resource Group Plc,