A committee tasked with ensuring communication between the local community and the developers at the Chisumbanje ethanol project could be making a breakthrough after meeting key stakeholders.
BY NDAMU SANDU
There is now hope the multi-million dollar venture could be revived.
The ethanol project stopped operations in 2011 after reaching its 10 million storage capacity and a slow uptake by the fuel industry.
Members of the District Ethanol Project Implementation Committee (Depic) met Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the project’s financier Billy Rautenbach. They sent a message to President Robert Mugabe through an intermediary in a major breakthrough for the project.
Depic representatives aired their grievances to Manicaland administrator Fungai Mbetsa on Friday and their concerns had reached President Mugabe, Depic’s spokesperson Claris Madhuku said yesterday.
Initially Depic had wanted Mugabe to chair a meeting to be attended by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mutambara, fellow DPM Thokozani Khupe and Rautenbach to plot the way forward for the venture, which has potential to transform Manicaland.
The team met Mutambara on Thursday who promised to come to the community with a detailed response.
Depic also met Rautenbach on Thursday where the businessman agreed to community’s demands, that 75% of the project employees would be local.
As a result, one member from Depic would also sit in the human resources department to ensure that the threshold is achieved.
The investor, Madhuku said, also agreed to do a reassessment of the compensation process to ensure that those who lost land to the new venture are adequately compensated.
Madhuku said the investor had agreed that the project would not exceed the area it was allocated. In the event that the project wants more land, it has to come to Depic and negotiate land, not with the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda).
Madhuku said the project had been politicised and the coming on board of Depic had removed that.
“We felt some players didn’t want us to have access to President Mugabe for political reasons,” he said.
The investor, Madhuku said, had pleaded with government to operate first and then ensure the project adheres to the country’s Indigenisation Act.
Early this year, government introduced a 5% mandatory blending for petrol which analysts say would save US$2 million monthly in imports.
The country imports at least 30 million litres of petrol per month.
However, without the blending licence, the project cannot resume.
Depic say the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has to issue the blending licence for the exercise to take place at 10% and not 5%.