BAT 'espionage' under govt probe

HARARE - Government will investigate allegations that British America Tobacco (BAT) was working with security forces and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to sabotage local tobacco manufacturers’ exports, a top government official said yesterday.

Speaking to journalists after touring cigarette manufacturer Savannah Tobacco (Savannah)’s factory in Harare yesterday,  vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa accused transnational tobacco companies operating in the country of seeking to monopolise the export market.

Mnangagwa said he had been alerted by players that industrial espionage sponsored by cartels was hampering indigenous manufacturers’ efforts at reaching the target set for them by government to export at least 10 billion cigarettes annually.

The vice president, a liberation war veteran, said he would employ his military expertise to get to the bottom of the matter.

“We need to protect our industry from the bigger boys and with my military background I am used to dealing with such situations,” Mnangagwa said.

“We must investigate the allegations so that we move from the allegations to real facts on the ground.”

He also accused the multilateral corporations of double standards, denying the cash-strapped government of revenue, while using locally produced tobacco.

Industrial espionage must be dealt with, he said.

“We are not industrialists ourselves but as leaders, when we get such reports, we must intervene to save the local industry because we must derive maximum benefits from the resources that we control,” he said.

Adam Molai, Savannah executive chairman, claimed that his company had since 2010 lost in excess of R150 million in revenue to economic espionage.

Molai said out of the five indigenous companies into cigarette production, only three were still able to manufacture, with the other two having to rely on others.

He said because of the situation obtaining in the industry, local companies were only managing a paltry 4 billion cigarettes for the export market per annum.

“We have had to manufacture for the other two companies because they can no longer sustain themselves as they are continuously being pushed to the wall by the saboteurs,” Molai said.

In 2012, President Robert Mugabe claimed that government had “irrefutable evidence” about BAT’s alleged tricks and that a probe into the matter had been instituted.

“I am dismayed… that BAT, operating with groups from South Africa, has been taking illicit action against another group called Savannah, undoing competition in such a manner is not acceptable,” Mugabe said.

BAT refuted the allegations, saying they were waiting for the findings of the probe whose outcome has not been made public to date.

Comments (7)

Why is it that Munangagwa is always reminding citizens about his training to kill and his experience as guerrilla. Surely 35 years later who wants to know. Murume uyu haana people skills. Imhondi chete there is nothing that he will offer Zimbabwe.

Morrison Makuvatsine - 21 March 2015

Why is it that Munangagwa is always reminding citizens about his training to kill and his experience as guerrilla. Surely 35 years later who wants to know. Murume uyu haana people skills. Imhondi chete there is nothing that he will offer Zimbabwe.

Morrison Makuvatsine - 21 March 2015

How can we have a ledare

Ziziharinanyanga - 21 March 2015

the man old enough he should go out of power

orishaba martin - 23 March 2015

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