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Christopher Mutsvangwa, the Mhofus and the PPI

18 Nov 2018 at 13:30hrs | Views
I was in Harare responding to the Zimbabwe is Open for Business call by the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and stayed at the Cresta Lodge. For a man from Mhandamabwe, this was one of the most memorable time of my life. The saluting guards, the smiling ladies at the service desk, and the spotless rooms made the most impression.

I kept on staring at the hive of activities, as I walked to my room, the security guy offered to help me with my bag, not that I had a lot of luggage; there were cleaning ladies everywhere, and some event planners pushing carts of products to an area I later learned was the Sango Conference.  There seemed to be a lot of thought and planning that was put into it but all manual labor.

After I got settled, I went back to the lobby where all the activities were taking place. There were groups seemingly in deep planning sessions, some just hanging out, some seeping coffee and muffins. I overheard someone saying there was a sporting event going on in Harare; there were people from all over the world.

I was happy to be at the Cresta Lodge and used my time there to try and understand the way of the world. The people around immediately made an impression on me. I was convinced that these were investors responding to President Mnangagwa's call for ZOB.

After supper, I went back to the lobby area and was just sitting there catching up with some news from around the world on the internet. The WiFi was blazing fast. I took a break and walked out of the door towards the garden and alas! There was Christopher Mutsvangwa sitting with a group of people. I could not believe my eyes that I was rubbing shoulders with the elites of Zimbabwe.

This was as best as it could get! In my mind, I immediately thought, this is the guy with direct influence on the President. I tried to get his attention, but I figured my expectations were too high, how could Chris notice a man coming out of Mhandamabwe when there are all these Chinese, Indians, Whites, Arabs all over the place. I went back in the lobby hoping for the best; I thought Chris would stop by just to say hi, but all my hopes were dashed when he walked out of the lodge in a hush soon after midnight.

My chances to get someone with direct influence on factories, utilities, and energy evaporated into thin air. I had to find a way of getting this ZOB information. The following day I went into the city; every inch of the sidewalk was covered by someone selling something, your imagination is your limitation of the goods on sale. There was a story of rugs to riches written on the streets vendors. Some were selling from marts, some from the carts, some from the shades, and others from cars. There is a story of status on display on the streets of Harare.

The situation made me very sad. I did not make too much progress on finding out about ZOB this day. I had one more night at the Lodge. I went back dejected. As I was eating my supper, I met some people from the Czech Republic who were looking for opportunities under the ZOB mantra. They spoke English and they were friendly. I sat down and had a conversation with them.

What they told me was very discouraging. Yes, Zimbabwe has so many opportunities, but the bad news is the government is broke; it does not have money to pay for anything. If one has an idea, they can come in under what is called the Private Partnership Initiative (PPI). What this means is the Private entrepreneur pays for the project with the hopes of recovering their cost through service charges.

My new-found friends were really dejected. They told me they have been around the block and they told me to run as fast and as far as I could from any country that operates on a PPI arrangement. They said as foreigners, there is no guarantee that they could recover their costs and worse more they could be kicked out of the country at any time. There can be change of government etc. I got it!

With my new-found knowledge, I have been following events with keen interest. There has been so much tension in the country and Christopher Mutsvangwa's name has been popping up everywhere: The next President, Lumumba, still President's Advisor, losing chair of the war veterans, etc.

Then my PPI lessons are quickly paying off. Chris is sitting on some A1 Jet fuel he ordered through some PPI arrangements that went sour. He is sitting on A1 Jet oil worth millions of dollars. The problem is he did not handle the oil properly and Air Zimbabwe refused to buy the oil from him. Now Chris is so upset that he is prepared to go down with the whole government. Thanks to my Czech friends! This PPI is a dangerous proposition.

Source - Sam Wezhira
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