|Sakunda Group Holdings|
|Contact Numbers: Landline: 04 755155, 04 578880,04 771133,04 751196,04 754399,04 770430,04 757422,04 753253,04 751713,04 772306,04 772307|
Sakunda Holdings is a privately owned Zimbabwean company in the commodities industry. It was founded and is majority owned owned by commodities businessman, Kuda Tagwirei.
Sakunda Holdings has three distinct operating divisions namely Sakunda Energy, Sakunda Trading and Sakunda Logistics.
The company holds a virtual monopoly over fuel distribution in Zimbabwe.
In March 2020 Sakunda applied for a got a license to revive two idled private hospitals in Harare - St Anne’s hospital in Avondale, and Rock Foundation Medical Centre in Arundel - so they could be used in government’s Coronavirus response. The development was announced after public outrage over reports that some health facilities in Harare were being reserved for the elite. The government was criticised for working closely with a company that had just 6 months ago had its accounts frozen for corruption-related activities.
In September 2019, Sakunda had its bank accounts frozen by instruction from the RBZ as part of a money-laundering investigation. Some analysts, however, dismissed the move as the government playing mind games as despite the investigations, the company remained government's partner in Command Agriculture programmer and was even involved in distributing inputs the following month using its CBZ bank accounts.
Sakunda Energy is responsible for the retailing and commercial business to government, parastatals and corporate clients.
Sakunda Trading is responsible for the procurement and importation of bulk fuel from reputable international oil traders and wholesale it to Oil Companies and bulk fuel buyers including Sakunda Energy.
This is a subsidiary that manages the movement of the fuel from importation to delivery to the eventual consumer.
The transaction resulted in the establishment of Trafigura Zimbabwe, which effectively became a subsidiary of Sakunda Holdings.
Under the deal Sakunda owned 51% of the company with Puma owning 49%.
Dema Power Plant
In January 2016, the Zimbabwean government-approved Sakunda's acquisition of 200 mega watt emergency diesel power plant at Dema substation. Sakunda partnered with ARUP, Energyst, Aggreko and Trafigura. The project is to be financed by Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Holdings, Stanbic Bank and Ecobank. Grant Thornton would come in as project accountants and Mhishi Legal Practice as legal advisors. The project was implemented to deal with Zimbabwe's power crisis that had worsened by decreasing electricity generation at Kariba Power Station due to diminishing water levels at Kariba Dam.
An alternate version of this approval is interesting. Sakunda did not bid for the contract. According to the Zimbabwe Independent, APR Energy Holdings, the original winner of the contract, “was later sidelined in favour of Sakunda after intervention by the President’s Office”. At the time, Sakunda was owned by a gentleman called Kudakwashe Tagwirei. He was a close associate of the ruling party, ZANU PF. His business partner in the Dema Project project was Derrick Chikore, brother of Simba Chikore, husband to Bona Mugabe, the then President Robert Mugabe’s daughter.
It is important to note that Sakunda had no previous experience in the business of power generation. One of the tender requirements was that the successful bidder had to demonstrate experience in the field of power generation. After APR Holdings won the tender, they inexplicably lost it and it was given to Sakunda. So Sakunda sub-contracted a British multinational called Aggreko plc, which has vast experience in the business. Sakunda hired Aggreko’s services for equipment and technical expertise to set up and run the project.
Aggreko had participated in the tender process, and had therefore lost the bid to its American rival, APR. Tender documents showed Aggreko were “initially disqualified because the ‘bidder is non-compliant with mandatory technical requirements of the request for proposal’”. The winner had lost and the loser had now taken the contract, albeit indirectly, through Sakunda. Sakunda had won the contract in an irregular way. Aggreko formally announced to the stock market that it had won a three-year contract with Sakunda. Sakunda, not ZESA, was its client.
At the time, it was said that ZESA would have to pay US$8 million in advance every month, for a period of at least 3 years. The Dema Project would produce electricity at a massive cost of 15.04c/kWh – very expensive compared to hydroelectricity at Kariba, which cost 4.11c/kWh, and thermal power from the Hwange Thermal Power Station, which was priced at 6.97c/kWh. Even imports were far cheaper with imports from Zambia costing 5.18c/kWh, and 5.66c/kWh from Mozambique’s Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB). This is why ZESA had applied for an increase in tariffs by 49% - a cost to the consumer.
Moreover, under the deal, Sakunda would provide fuel for the project. But it had a special concession which meant it would import duty-free fuel. That’s no taxes at all.
It later emerged that Sakunda had been bought by another multinational, Trafigura, which has a heavy presence in the fuel procurement and distribution business. But Tagwirei has remained closely associated with the company which has been lauded as a key partner in the Command Agriculture programme, in respect of which Mnangagwa claims and is given much credit.  
Sakunda was the largest conduit of controversial government funding for agriculture, under Command Agriculture.
In September 2019, the IMF warned Zimbabwe that state payouts to Sakunda were having negative effects on the economy and pushing the deterioration of the local currency the ZWL. The payouts which were for the Command Agriculture were reportedly met by printing money. Sakunda received $366m in government bonds as payments for "supplying" Command Agriculture. When Sakunda redeemed some of the bonds, the payouts were made in Zimbabwe dollars at an exchange rate that translated into money printing. The redemptions led to an 80 percent surge in Zimbabwe’s monetary base.
Money Laundering and Bank Account Freeze
In September 2019, Sakunda Holdings' bank accounts in Zimbabwe were frozen by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's Finacial Intelligence Unit. The move followed a warning by the IMF to the government that payouts to Sakunda were pushing the economy to the brink.
In a letter to local financial institutions dated 19 September 2019, the RBZ directed the institutions to freeze the company's accounts with immediate effect. Other companies that also had their bank accounts frozen along with Sakunda are Access Finance, Spartan Security and Croco Motors.
The move by RBZ was reported to be part of a war over the forex black market.
In October, state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, reported that Sakunda was disbursing inputs to the Command Agriculture programme through CBZ. This was despite the apparent account freeze.
Prominent academic and political analyst, Alex Magaisa referred to the bank account freeze and investigation as just government playing mind games:
They think we are fools. Perhaps we are. Recall they said Sakunda’s accounts were frozen? Now The Herald on Command Agriculture, “Shiri said CBZ through its co-operative partner Sakunda has started distributing inputs to the various parts of the country...” Bayahlanya sibili “Where such facilities may not be available then Sakunda can move inputs to GMB depots ...” adds The Herald. So we have a company allegedly being investigated by government for suspected money-laundering but it’s still a big partner in the same government’s flagship program?
- , ABOUT US OVERVIEW, Sakunda Energy, published: No Date Given, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- , Zim energy tycoon rescues Chiyangwa, Weekend Post, published: June 17, 2013, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- , ABOUT US OVERVIEW, Sakunda Holdings, published: No Date Given, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- , Chris Muronzi, Foreign giants take over fuel sector, Zimbabwe Independent, published: January 23, 2015, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- , Tafigura takes over Sakunda, Africa Confidential, published: May 14, 2014, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- , Lynton-Edward, CTC approves Sakunda takeover deal, Lynton-Edwards Stock Brokers, published: April 30, 2015, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- , Walter Muchingura, Govt awards Sakunda 200MW tender, Herald, published: January 7, 2016, retrieved: June 9, 2016
- BSR: A murky tale: The Dema Power Project Revisited, Big Saturday Read, Published: 22 October 2018, Retrieved: 7 August 2019
- Dema plant: A case of sleaze and pollution, The Independent, Published: 7 October 2016, Retrieved: 7 August 2019
- IMF warns Zimbabwe over payouts to Trafigura partner, Pindula, Published: 26 Sep 2019, Accessed: 22 Oct 2019
- FULL TEXT: RBZ Freezes Sakunda, Access Finance, Croco Motors…… Accounts, Pindula News, Published: 20 Sep 2019, Retrieved: 20 Sep 2019
- RBZ freezes Sakunda, Croco Motors bank accounts, NewZWire, Published: 20 Sep 2019, Retrieved: 20 Sep 2019
- Government targets 1,5 million ha of maize, The Herald, Published: 12 Oct 2019, Accessed:13 Oct 2019
- They think we are fools, Twitter, Published: 13 Oct 2019, Accessed: 13 Oct 2019