By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE US government has slapped targeted sanctions on Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings accusing the business mogul of being part of a closely knit ring of elites that have stunted Zimbabwe’s economic growth prospects through corruption.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it has designated President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s top ally and his business for the punitive measures.
“Tagwirei and other Zimbabwean elites have derailed economic development and harmed the Zimbabwean people through corruption,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich.
“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.”
Tagwirei is a Zimbabwean businessman with longstanding associations to the ruling party in Zimbabwe and high-level government officials.
These include Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who was blacklisted under the US government’s sanctions policy towards leaders of the under-fire Harare administration.
Tagwirei, a quiet but wily businessman, has used his close connections to Zimbabwe’s ruling elite to snatch highly lucrative state contracts and also get easy access to scarce foreign currency, at the expense of the rest.
In turn, Tagwirei has provided high priced items, such as expensive cars to senior-level Zimbabwean government officials.
Since former President Robert Mugabe was elbowed out in a military coup 2017, Tagwirei has used a combination of opaque business dealings and his ongoing relationship with Mnangagwa to grow his business empire dramatically and rake in millions of US dollars.
Tagwirei is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founding director of Sakunda Holdings.
As CEO, Tagwirei is responsible for the overall strategy and direction of the company, as well as developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, including regulators and clients.
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.
According to the US, 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.”