HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has been sucked into the raging Chisumbanje ethanol project whirlwind, reportedly stalled by factional fights in his teetering Zanu PF, the Weekend Post can reveal.
Highly-placed insiders told the Weekend Post that an order by Mugabe for negotiators to conclude a deal by April 30 had not only passed but had actually been defied.
Energy minister Elton Mangoma confirmed the deadline.
“It was not president Mugabe in his personal capacity but, yes Cabinet had given us a deadline and we failed to meet it. We are still negotiating and hope to come up with something, by end of business today,” Mangoma said this week.
Mangoma is part of an inter-ministerial committee headed by deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara and mandated with crafting a solution last week.
The Energy minister refused to comment on claims that infighting in Mugabe’s party is stalling progress on the mega-million project.
“I cannot comment on factionalism in another party. However I can tell you that Cabinet has a position and there are no differences regarding that decision that government has taken.
“We are going to be meeting the Green-fuel people to discuss the contents of a letter they wrote to us regarding the government offer,” said Mangoma.
Insiders said Zanu PF’s uncontrolled succession battle pitting Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice president Joice Mujuru is said to have raised the stakes following a visit by a party delegation that also included party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and fronted by Mujuru.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo seemed to trip over the issue.
“My understanding is that Mangoma (Energy Minister) and the opposition are the problem. They are trying to cause divisions in Manicaland.
“It is a Manicaland problem. Zanu PF wants the project opened and has nothing to do with the slow progress,” Gumbo said.
Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza while acknowledging there are fissures within the Cabinet committee, claimed Zanu PF wants the project to go ahead.
“From our side and the community we are working very well. There is agreement across party lines in the whole of Manicaland that the project must go on. It is probably at Cabinet level where maybe we have people coming to the table with different agendas.
“Zanu PF as far as I am aware has never been at variance with government position but there are maybe individuals who are pushing a different line,” Nyabadza said.
The agricultural authority represents government in the partnership with Green Fuel.
As tensions run high, meetings scheduled between coalition principals and a delegation representing the Chisumbanje community to break the deadlock were yesterday hanging by a thread.
Pressure group Platform for Youth Development spokesperson Claris Madhuku confirmed that a delegation was in town to meet the country’s political leaders.
“It is true there is a delegation from Chisumbanje that is set to meet the coalition partners and their respective deputies as well as Industry minister Welshman Ncube.
“We have been denied access to these people because of politicking in particular from the Zanu PF side. To them progress is measured on how much political mileage they get at each stage and this has been hindering progress,” Madhuku said. —Weekend Post