By Mutsa Makuvaza
THE sanctions and asset freeze announced by the British Government on Zanu-PF linked business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei will only help create more sympathy for him within top echelons of the ruling party while also creating more rich men and women overnight, an analyst has reckoned.
In announcing the British Government’s toughest measures yet against the Sakunda Holdings boss yesterday, UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said Tagwirei “profited significantly from the misappropriation of property at the expense of wider macroeconomic stability in Zimbabwe, in one of the most serious incidences of corruption under the current government.”
“His company, Sakunda Holdings, redeemed government of Zimbabwe Treasury Bills at up to ten times their official value. His actions accelerated the deflation of Zimbabwe’s currency, increasing the price of essentials, such as food, for Zimbabwean citizens,” he added.
The announcement immediately brought celebration among pro-opposition quarters while ruling party supporters found the sanctions an act of intrusion. However, respected political and economic analyst Brian Sedze believes the restrictions on Tagwirei will barely affect him and his friends personally.
“The other side of ” targeted” sanctions on Tagwirei and companies he controls is that it will cost a lot more for products and services he supplies or has exclusive contracts because to remain afloat he has to add intermediaries,” Sedze reasoned on Friday. “It is unlikely they will cut him or his companies off the state supply chain but they will instead commiserate with him, as those in power are also sanctioned.”Sedze said Tagwirei who has control in banking, fuel, logistics, agriculture, mining and other sectors will only expect marginal increase in costs to cover intermediary and complex structures costs.
“This will impact tax collection from his entities, if it was significant. Zimbabwe use a source based tax system so we tax on income from Zimbabwe or deemed to be from Zimbabwe,” Sedze explained. “To trade, invest and source products/ services it means he has to operate from outside the jurisdiction in murky structures like 88 Queensway.
“This will transfer his and entities he control tax collection to those jurisdiction. I add sanctions after UDI (1965 – 1979) created hundreds of millionaires in Rhodesia and these sanctions/ targeted measures in Zimbabwe will create lots of millionaires as murky corporate structures that avoid tax will be created to keep certain sectors afloat.
“So each sanctions decision impacts ordinary citizens somehow,” said Sedze.
Former Zanu-PF youth member Acie Lumumba, who coined the term “Queen Bee” to refer to Tagwirei’s stranglehold on Zimbabwe’s key economic sectors, says the tycoon was just untouchable in spite of the sanctions.
“Kudakwashe Tagwirei is now in a global exclusive club of targeted human beings by big governments,” Lumumba reasoned. “His advisors tell him not to worry, “they have his back.” You don’t fight big governments that way. Once you are a project of theirs, you play in not out!”
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who has been at the forefront of calling out against the brazen looting of public resources by top Government officials, agreed that the sanctions would not affect Tagwirei but they were symbolic and important. Chin’ono called for Tagwirei to be made to return what “he and his Zanu-PF cronies looted” from State institutions and collusion over tenders.
“The sanctions imposed by US and UK are not enough but symbolic. Tagwirei must return the money he and his Zanu-PF cronies looted from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. He got ten times more value on treasury bills. That is theft which he will pay for, and yet some clowns call him a businessman!
“Until Zimbabwe deals with looting, it is going nowhere. Sadly the looters have protection from people who abuse State institutions by prosecuting those fighting corruption.”
Main opposition MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said Tawirei was directly responsible for the poverty around the country.
“Looting command agriculture funds, securing dodgy tenders and being part of Kuda Tagwirei’s cartel is not legitimate business. It is theft. The rich are getting richer while half the population wallows in extreme mass poverty.”
British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson, said: “Corruption harms ordinary people which is why the UK imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on Kudakwashe Tagwirei. I look forward to seeing the Zimbabwean government put its commitment to fight corruption into action.”
However, as long as Zanu-PF in general and President Mnangagwa in particular are still in power, many agree on one thing; Tagwirei will remain untouchable, and will grow even richer with or without the sanctions. – Zimbabwe Voice