Furore over late opening of ethanol plant

HARARE - Vice President Joice Mujuru has come under fire from the Chisumbanje community for political posturing over the re-opening of the multi-billion dollar ethanol project.

Pressure group Platform for Youth Development (PYD) said Mujuru had ignored protocol and pronounced that the plant would be reopened, but there is still no production.

“Such utterances amount to a vote of no confidence in the leadership of (deputy prime minister) Arthur Mutambara,” PYD leader Claris Madhuku said in a statement.

“The community expected such announcements to have been made by Mutambara, acting on behalf of the inter-ministerial committee tasked by Cabinet for that purpose.”

Mutambara heads a Cabinet taskforce tasked with resolving the contentious ethanol blending furore.

Lillian Muungani, spokesperson for ethanol project requested written questions, which were sent to her.

Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma said Mutambara should be given the chance to execute his mandate.

“Cabinet has discussed and reaffirmed its position that mandatory blending can only be allowed where the investor is in a joint venture with the government,” Mangoma said.

“We are all concerned about the project and people have their views but I think we should be guided by what the law says. The position of the government has been communicated to the investor through DPM Mutambara and so far we have not received any response. There was a given timeframe that has not yet lapsed,” Mangoma said without giving specifics.

Madhuku said it was “very suspicious that the government of Zimbabwe might be concentrating on the politics of their respective political parties and intra-party differences at the expense of the community.”

Madhuku, who is also a member of the District Ethanol Plant Implementation Committee’ (Depic) said the community’s confidence in government resolving the issue was waning.

“The villagers have always had so much confidence in the inter-ministerial committee, particularly the deputy prime minister and the minister of Energy among other ministries,” he said.

“The waning confidence from the community is a clarion call for the Cabinet to be more serious before the community follows the instinct of survival.

“Impatience is growing very high as villagers, who expected the plant to have reopened timeously, feel cheated and neglected by the government.”

However Madhuku remained positive the issue will be resolved soon.

“The attitude and conduct of the investor has positively changed in favour of progress and development, we are now ready to enter into a partnership that works for our community,” he said.

Mutambara, who has on previous occasions accused politicians for the problems besetting the ethanol plant, was unreachable for comment yesterday.

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