THE United States of America (USA) yesterday placed sanctions on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s business allay Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his company Sakunda Holdings.
President Donald Trump’s administration claimed that Tagwirei had used his closeness to Mnangagwa to enrich himself.
This comes a few months after Washington also added State Security minister Own Ncube and former Presidential Guard commander, Anselem Sanyatwe, on its sanctions list.
“Today (yesterday), the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei for providing support to the leadership of the government of Zimbabwe, as well as Sakunda Holdings for being owned or controlled by Tagwirei.
“Today’s action corresponds with the second anniversary of the Zimbabwean government’s violent crackdown against its citizens who were protesting flawed government elections and the delayed results of the election, which resulted in the deaths of at least six civilians on August 1, 2018,” Washington said.
Tagwirei was said to have “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, the government of Zimbabwe”.
According to Trump’s administration, Tagwirei had a longstanding association with the ruling Zanu PF and high-level government officials — including Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who were slapped with sanctions in March 2003 and November 2005 respectively.
“Tagwirei has utilised his relationships with high level Zimbabwean officials to gain state contracts and receive favoured access to hard currency, including US dollars.
“In turn, Tagwirei has provided high priced items, such as expensive cars, to senior-level Zimbabwean government officials.
“Since former … President Robert Mugabe’s 2017 departure, Tagwirei used a combination of opaque business dealings and his ongoing relationship with President Mnangagwa to grow his business empire dramatically and rake in millions of US dollars,” Washington added.
It also said Tagwirei, as founding director of Sakunda Holdings, had allegedly used the company to obtain lucrative deals from the government.
“Government audit reports prompted a 2019 parliamentary inquiry into whether public funds were misappropriated, revealing the government had failed to account for about $3 billion disbursed under the Command Agriculture programme, a state farm subsidy championed by … Mnangagwa and largely financed by Sakunda Holdings,” it said.
Tagwirei sits in the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) and his company, Sakunda, has been heavily involved in the controversial Command Agriculture programme, which was introduced by Mugabe in 2016 to provide food security to the country.
Although Sakunda Holdings was accused of having received US$3 billion for the programme, it said in Parliament — during a hearing this year — that the figure had been overstated as it had only received US$1 billion between June 2016 and May 2019.