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Mnangagwa wants BAT investigated of sabotage
21/03/2015 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
We need to protect our industry from the bigger boys ... Emmerson Mnangagwa
 
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VICE president and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa wants foreign-owned British America Tobacco (BAT) investigated for “sabotage”.

Mnangagwa last week told journalists that BAT has been working to sabotage black-owned tobacco manufacturers’ exports.

President Robert Mugabe also threatened BAT over the same allegations some two years ago.

Mnangagwa said government has been alerted by industry players that espionage sponsored by international cartels was hampering indigenous manufactures’ efforts at reaching their targets of 10 billion cigarettes annually.

He was speaking after touring Savannah Tobacco, a local cigarette manufacturer linked to President Robert Mugabe.

“We need to protect our industry from the bigger boys and with my military background I am used to dealing with such situations. We must investigate the allegations so that we move from the allegations to real facts on the ground,” he said.

The vice president accused multinational corporations of “double standards denying the cash-strapped government of revenue while using locally produced tobacco”.

“Industrial espionage must be dealt with,” he said.

“We are not industrialists ourselves but as leaders, when we get such reports, we must intervene to save the local industry because we must derive maximum benefits from the resources that we control.”

Savannah executive chairman, Adam Molai claimed that his company had since 2010 lost in excess of R150 million about $15 million in revenue to economic espionage.

He told Mnangagwa that out of the five indigenous companies currently in cigarette production, only three were still able to manufacture with the other two having turned into merchants.

“We have had to manufacture for the other two companies because they can no longer sustain themselves as they are continuously being pushed to the wall by the saboteurs,” said Molai.

In 2012, President Robert Mugabe claimed that government had “irrefutable evidence” about BAT’s alleged tricks and that a probe into the matter had been instituted.

“I am dismayed… that BAT, operating with groups from South Africa, has been taking illicit action against another group called Savannah, undoing competition in such a manner is not acceptable,” Mugabe said after touring the cigarette producer which insiders claims he has shares in but nothing came off his threats.



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BAT has denied the allegations arguing it is waiting for the outcome of the probe whose outcome has not been made public to date.


 
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