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Debunking mischief about Tagwirei, Sakunda

10 Jul 2024 at 11:49hrs | Views
There has been a sustained casting of aspersions over the success of businessman Mr Kudakwashe Tagwirei, whom I will simply call Kuda, from anti-Zimbabwe media and activists both locally and outside the country in recent days.

This misguided mischief cannot go unchallenged.

The ultimate intention of these activists is to discredit the successful Command Agriculture and sustain illegal sanctions imposed on Kuda by some western countries.

What has miffed these western countries and the anti-government activists and media is the role Kuda has been playing in the revival of the Zimbabwean economy as a businessman.

The success of Command Agriculture, which has resulted in the food security being enjoyed in Zimbabwe, can safely be attributed to Command Agriculture in which Kuda's Sakunda Holdings played a role.

In all the negative and false reports about Kuda and Sakunda, no one has dared to trace how he rose from humble beginnings to become the successful businessman he now is.

In this article, I seek to give a glimpse of how Kuda worked hard with the help of his wife, Sandra, to climb the ladder of success.

Contrary to the perception being pushed by anti-Zimbabwe organisations such as the United States-based The Sentry, Kuda and his wife, Sandra, did not just wake up with successful businesses.

They sacrificed a lot of effort and the little they had and did not seek favours from anyone in their journey to success.

I have heard so many people talking about how Kuda was allegedly enriched by corrupt deals with government.

But from what I have gathered, if there is anything that made Kuda, credit must go to his wife, Sandra, and their religious faith that inspired them to focus on growing each other.

The story of Kuda's business life starts with his retrenchment from one of Zimbabwe's biggest banks, and one day, sitting in a fuel queue for hours, the two realised that sanctions were driving out the leading Western fuel companies and this had left a huge gap in the market for the supply of fuel.

After Kuda got his retrenchment package, he combined with his wife to create Sakunda, which is a neologism of Sandra and Kuda.

They then went on to apply for a fuel trading license and sadly, that year, 2002, only 149 fuel licenses were issued by government and Sakunda missed out.

Instead of despairing, Sandra and Kuda leased a fuel licence from one of the people who had been awarded a licence.

In their first six months, they got a contract to supply US$500 000 worth of fuel per month to some entity, but they didn't have the money.

They subsequently approached Sandra's former boss and were advised to mortgage their house for the loan and they did just that.

After getting the loan, they began to push half a million dollars worth of fuel every month.

With growing fuel shortages in the country and money in hand, they grew their business rapidly and in 10 years they owned numerous service stations, a fleet of trucks and were selling over 20 million litres of fuel per month.

By 2012, Sakunda was the biggest fuel supplier in Zimbabwe and this attracted the attention of the intelligence services, who wanted to know the owner of this monumental business.

By now, only a few of the 149 licence holders had built proper, flourishing fuel businesses.

The biggest of the players were Sakunda, Chigumba and Shingai Mutasa of Zuva.

Most others had made money, externalised it, spend it or divested from fuel to other industries; but the top three had made money, reinvested their profits back into Zimbabwe, stuck with the industry, built world class black businesses and eliminated fuel queues.

After some background checks by the intelligence, the Government approached Sakunda and offered them a share of the Beira pipeline because the Government had no money or capacity to carry the 60 million litres of fuel they were contracted to carry, thus they were losing money in fees for unused pipeline capacity.

The other companies didn't have the risk appetite, capacity or money required for the contract, so they declined the offer.

Sakunda then undertook to move the 60 million-litre pipeline capacity offered to them, plus utilisation of the storage capacity at Beira.

This also meant keeping 23 million litres dormant in the pipeline to facilitate siphonage.

As fortune would have it, ever since 2002, Kuda had gone on to study fuel and commodity trading in Europe where he forged valuable relationships with executives from commodity traders such as Trafigura, Glencore and others.

In the process, he appraised them on the latent opportunity in the Zimbabwe fuel market which lead to them joining him in growing the storage and pipeline capacity to 120 million litres per month.

So, while Sakunda was making money selling fuel as many Zimbabweans did in the early 2000s, the executives improved their competencies by learning international commodity trade.

Consequently, Kuda was invited to be one of the few Africans in the World Economic Forum.

Here, he created relationships with the biggest commodity brokerage executives, bankers and captains of industry, which developed his international credit rating to get fuel on loan for Zimbabwe.

Sandra and Kuda took a gamble, investing in sending fuel down a pipeline even though they had dozens of trucks.

This drastically reduced their fuel costs and increased their margins exponentially.

By being smart, taking risks, keeping money at hand to take advantage of opportunities in Zimbabwe and being willing to invest their money in projects like the pipeline and by reinvesting their money in the same business for years, Sandra and Kuda made lots of money and grew wealthy.

To increase their chances of making money, instead of externalising their profits, they kept it in Zimbabwe to take advantage of high margin opportunities in the money minting industries of insurance, banking, investment banking, mining, transport, energy and agriculture.

Meanwhile, other entrepreneurs made their money in Zimbabwe and erroneously divested from high growth Zimbabwe and invested in saturated and low growth markets like Europe and South Africa.

As a result, the likes of James Makamba, Mawere and Vingirai did not continue to do as well as they were doing before.

The likes of Kamushinda focused some of their business activities in Namibia, while Sandra and Kuda kept sowing their money back in Zimbabwe and reaping big.

And now that they have made more money than most, by remaining in Zimbabwe, they are demonised and now called a monopoly for being smart, patriotic and innovative.

What many of their detractors forget is that when many were favoured members of empowerment vehicles, Sandra and Kuda were mere employees and outsiders looking in.

They were only recognised by government because of their immense contribution to stabilising the fuel shortage in Zimbabwe.

My advice to Zimbabweans is: learn from Sandra and her man. See the opportunities that these sanctions have opened up for indigenous people like they did and make money before we, the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement (ZASM), succeed in making these sanctions removed and western competition floods Zimbabwe.

There will never be another gold rush in Zimbabwe like we are currently seeing now, so learn from the best, solve Zimbabwean problems and make money instead of complaining and discrediting those who have made successes.

Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Movement, an organisation that is fighting for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by some western countries.

Source - The Herald
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