By Anna Chibamu
OIL dealer Sakunda Holdings has denied capturing the state as commonly alleged by many Zimbabweans, among them top Zanu PF, opposition and independent figures.
On Monday, the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Charles Chitambo sarcastically asked Norton MP, Temba Mliswa if he was serious about his allegations on “state capture”.
Mliswa had asked, “have you captured the state?”
This was when Chitambo was appearing before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chaired by top MDC legislator Tendai Biti.
“I do not think Honourable Mliswa is serious about this,” he said.
“It will be unlike for Honourable Mliswa to ask that question I suppose. Mr Chairman, we in Sakunda do not feel we have captured the State.
“We believe that we have used the best skills we have to respond to a national request to revamp the production of the grain for import substitution.
“We believe that we have used the highest in our own selection process in working with a list of suppliers that was agreed with ministry of Lands and Agriculture.
“We believe that we worked within price parameters dictated by the ministry of Lands and Agriculture. We have tendered the returns back and observed those limits,” Chitambo said.
Sakunda reportedly enjoys the use of a vital state-owned pipeline that supplies most of the country’s fuel needs as its owner Kudakwashe Tagwirei is said to be connected to some powerful government officials who include President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
He used to partner Trafigura which is currently under scrutiny over how it used local intermediaries such as Sakunda to strike deals in markets such as Zimbabwe.
Christopher Mutsvangwa, a senior Zanu-PF figure, claimed Sakunda’s influence over it was secured in a way that he described as akin to “state capture”.
The alleged benefits included inflated prices for fuel delivered through the pipeline at a time when a dire shortage of US dollars meant the country was struggling to pay for imports.
Sakunda and Trafigura have both dismissed the allegations.
“We have exited PUMA and no longer part of Trafigura,” Chitambo said.
He also revealed the real owners of Sakunda as Sandra Mupunga and Tagwirei.
Chitambo also denied Sakunda has dominated the oil industry, telling the committee the company was no longer supplying more than 40% fuel as advised by government.
There have been allegations that Sakunda has been receiving subsidies on fuel at the expense of other fuel suppliers in the market.