Billy Rautenbach ARDA deals under scrutiny as bosses won’t provide agreed contracts

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BUSINESSMAN Billy Rautenbach’s joint venture projects with the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) are under scrutiny with fears that most of the multi- million dollar deals were verbal agreements with the Authority.

This came out during the Lands and Agriculture Parliamentary Portfolio Committee’s hearing when ARDA board chairperson, Basil Nyabadza, and CEO, Willard Mbano, failed to provide the written contracts Monday.

Committee reports say that the ethanol producer Rautenbach is believed to own 80% of the Chisumbanje Ethanol projects with the remainder being shared equally between the government and Nyabadza.

The businessman also reportedly had close ties with the ousted former president Robert Mugabe.

Appearing before the Lands and Agriculture Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Monday, Mbano said due to the security nature of the country, “most investors” do not want to be known publicly as they have defied foreign governments to support Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector.

“The agreements we entered into have a confidentiality clause providing for the non-disclosure of the contents of the agreement to third parties without formal agreement from the other part,” said Mbano.

“Our fear now in the event that these partners are revealed in the public domain is that they will be added to the sanctions and they have raised some concerns following the news of our appearing of this august committee,” said Mbano.

He added, “This may then negatively affect our national thrust to mobilise foreign direct investment on both our existing and future partnerships with those investors who access their funds offshore.”

“Take note that one of our investors has in the past been placed under sanctions and we have attached documents I will refer to”.

Mbano went on to remind the committee members that Rauterbach was once placed under US and EU travel and business sanctions because of his close relationship with Mugabe and Zanu PF.

From its beginning, the Chisumbanje Green Fuel project was marred in controversy amid claims of kick-backs and bribes while other officials became victims when they refused to sanction the deal.