FUEL mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei has for the first time proudly commented on the controversial Command Agriculture programme, distancing himself from abusing US$3 billion as reported by the Auditor General.
He opened up while officiating a graduation ceremony at Solusi University where he was a guest of honour.
Tagwireyi, who sponsors the programme, maintained it was a success, dismissing the claim that he stole US$3 billion States funds.
He said these were lies being peddled by his detractors only because he was President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally.
The money in question was released during the 2017 and 2018 agricultural season but was not accounted for by the agricultural ministry.
“I want to tell you something, today I’m too excited, please forgive me,” he said.
“In 2015, I wanted to leave the country. I was doing well in the international market. Those of you who are aware know that I was doing very well … and I was looking at the troubles that Zimbabwe was going through.
“…I was banking with the biggest bank in the world, I had everything that I wanted.”
He said he left the country for Equatorial Guinea, telling himself that he was on a government assignment.
Tagwireyi said he talked about the economy and the looming drought in the country with a friend.
“When I got there I had started thinking and planning about it. In a week I came back, and when I came back I sat down and planned this strategy. I called my friend and sat up until 4 am.
“I did a project proposal for contract farming which we now call Command Agriculture and I had a problem because there was what was called the RTGS at that time and there was no money which was moving out of the country, so I had this problem but at at the same time there was this bigger problem in the country.
“I gave them (the proposal) in 2015, the government took one year thinking about it and when they were thinking about it they had offers from other people to do the same programme. My interest rate were the lowest. It was 4%. When we started the programme, no one thought it was going to succeed and no one talked about it.
“When it was successful in 2017, the US Agriculture department wrote that Zimbabwe was doing one of the best things in command agriculture. (But) when they began to think who I was supporting, and that I was supporting the government of the day, they then said he stole US$3 billion and I was placed on sanctions.
“So, this is what I was trying to do. To try and make the land become successful.”
He said there will always be situations that impede development, but the newly capped should always be ready and not be deterred from doing projects that work well for Zimbabwe.
Tagwirei also urged them to work together in order to be successful in business.
Zanu-PF apologists claim the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) officials, including Tendai Biti, was working with the US to undermine the opaque programme sponsored by Tagwirei.
The businessman was, in 2020, placed on the US targeted sanctions list, igniting protests from Zanu-PF aligned war veterans and farmers who have singled out Biti for allegedly inviting the diplomatic action.
Biti chairs parliament’s Public Accounts committee and has not given Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings any rest while demanding he accounts for billions worth of taxpayers’ money funnelled through the businessman’s companies.
Government’s Command Agriculture programme was ostensibly established to ensure food sufficiency in the country, but its critics say it has allegedly been used as a vehicle to mask high level corruption by Zimbabwean authorities and their cronies.