The cost of patriotism: the case of Tagwirei

By Kudzai Mutisi

The modern world is driven by information and misinformation. Those who win the information and misinformation war prevail in advancing their individual and national interests.

Unbeknown to many, the West has a massive propaganda machine in the form of mainstream international media (BBC, CNN etc), fake investigative/intelligence organisations, captured politicians, social media companies, and NGOs.

In Zimbabwe, and elsewhere, there are well-funded individuals and organisations working to discredit the government, spreading lies to destroy local businessmen and creating excuses to justify Western sanctions. In doing so, they aim to perpetuate economic stagnation and thus creating fertile conditions for an uprising. For 22 years, they have been relentless, but with little success.

Tagwirei and the command agriculture lie

Even though Zimbabwe took land in the early 2000s, the land was largely unproductive because the new black farmers lacked financial and technical support. State-owned banks like AgriBank were placed on American sanctions, thus destroying Zimbabwe’s ability to fund new farmers. In addition to that, agro companies like Chemplex were placed under sanctions, thus destroying the entire agriculture value chain. All this was done to perpetuate the Western narrative that land reform in Zimbabwe led to low production, poverty, and hunger.

In response to this onslaught on Zimbabwe’s agriculture, the government implemented the Command Agriculture programme in 2016. In simple terms, the programme involved government providing inputs to farmers who will in turn produce and pay back the input costs.

To implement Command Agriculture, the government roped in several companies to help in the procurement and distribution of inputs to farmers. These companies included FSG, Pedstock, Sakunda, ZFC, Windmill, Sable Chemicals, Valley Seeds, Seedco, and Quton.

By and large, Command Agriculture was a huge success in the 2016/2017 agricultural season. The previously unproductive Zimbabwean farmers achieved record-breaking production and that effectively dismantled the Western narrative that blacks can’t use the land productively.

The emergence of the anti-Tagwirei propaganda

Rattled by the success of the Command Agriculture, the anti-Zimbabwe forces in Zimbabwe and outside went on a massive campaign to discredit the programme. Out of all the companies that participated in the programme, they singled out Kuda Tagwirei’s Sakunda Holdings. The narrative was that Kuda Tagwirei “is linked to ZANU PF and corruptly benefitted from the Command Agriculture programme.”

The anti-Tagwirei propaganda is well funded and coordinated from Western capitals. A dodgy “investigative” organisation called The Sentry publishes reports on Zimbabwe that are immediately reported by the Daily Maverick in South Africa and subsequently tweeted and shared by Tendai Biti, Hopewell Chin’ono, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Zimbabwean opposition surrogates.

In the Zimbabwean Parliament, Tendai Biti is the man doing the bidding for the anti-Zimbabwe forces. As the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Biti systematically attacked the Command Agriculture programme and promoted negative sentiment against the programme. Online and offline, Tendai Biti would repeat baseless allegations against Tagwirei in preparation for the imposition of sanctions on Tagwirei.

The ever-changing lies

Initially, the allegation was that Tagwirei made US$6 billion dollars from Command Agriculture. A few months later, the figure was reduced to US$3.6 billion. A few weeks ago, the figure fell to US$1.3 billion. And the latest piece published by the Daily Maverick quoting The Sentry says Kuda Tagwirei made US$90 million from Command Agriculture. Check the latest Daily Maverick report HERE.

Despite Tendai Biti’s incessant accusations against Sakunda, the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament of Zimbabwe recently exonerated Sakunda Holding. In a report on 3 March 2022, the PAC found that Sakunda fully accounted for its participation in Command Agriculture. You can check the PAC Report on Command Agriculture HERE.

The Public Accounts Committee (chaired by the opposition) also found out that the government of Zimbabwe issued Treasury Bills to at least 10 companies contracted in the Command Agriculture programme. The committee said total payments to Sakunda for 2017 was $378,739,319.75 and for 2018 it was $235,954,143.85.” In addition, the committee also found that “Total payments in 2017 and 2018 for the Presidential Input Scheme is $573,392,887.33 (paid to FSG – $ 392,853,180.22; Quton – $19,753,638.00; Pedstock – $7,538,441.69; Cottco – $30,898,812.65; Sakunda $51,205,481.25; Sable Chemicals – $4,900,000.00; Seedco – $40,150,000.00; Valley Seeds – $8,700,000; Windmill – $17,800,000; and ZFC – $17,750,000.)”

The real agenda

Since the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe, Western companies that used to dominate the economy pulled out. This left a huge gap that took years to fill thus leading to a free fall of the Zimbabwean economy. However, local companies emerged that could get tenders from the government, and these became a target for US Sanctions.

Even though Sakunda was singled out, the aim of the sanctions is to intimidate other companies from working with the government. To the Americans, the Zimbabwean economy has to struggle so that a message is sent to other African countries that taking land leads to economic collapse.

The Sentry, the NewsHawks, the Daily Maverick, and their surrogates will continue to spew propaganda to justify the American onslaught on Zimbabwe’s economy. Sakunda Holdings and Kuda Tagwirei were sanctioned “for corruption” yet they were never convicted in any court of law. The sanctions were based on whatever that was cooked up by these dodgy institutions and Tendai Biti.

Tagwirei the Businessman and Philanthropist

All that Zimbabweans have come to know about Kuda Tagwirei comes from the forces of negativity. Little is said about his business acumen and his philanthropic work. Sakunda Holdings refurbished and equipped hospital wards in Zimbabwe, is sponsoring two football clubs, employs thousands of Zimbabweans, and has offered to refurbish Rufaro Stadium to FIFA standards.

As is always the case, every black businessman who goes against the wishes of the West is demonised and sanctioned. Just as Russian billionaires in Europe are being targeted with sanctions as a way of punishing the Russian government, Tagwirei is being punished for serving and saving Zimbabwe.

It’s time that patriots take charge of the narrative and celebrate our own instead of denigrating them at the behest of Western imperialists. The West cherish their own millionaires, yet they push the narrative that the rich in Africa are beneficiaries of corruption.

DISCLAIMER:

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.