Parly scrutinises Green Fuel project

HARARE - Businessman Billy Rautenberg’s Green Fuel (Private) Limited came under the spotlight yesterday, with members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy questioning its pricing model.

It emerged yesterday, that Green Fuel is selling its ethanol at $1, 10 and yet the same product is being bought for $0,88s from its competitor, Triangle Limited, an agri-based sugar company situated in the south-east lowveld of Zimbabwe, 445km south east of the capital. Triangle is wholly-owned by The Tongaat Hulett Group.

According to the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera), Gloria Magombo, while they recommended against the move, government went against their recommendations.

“They were various costs submitted by the producer (Green Fuel). We thought that the price was too high and we submitted our recommendations to the government but the government approved the price,” she said.

Magombo went on to say that Triangle and Green Fuel were using two different methods to produce ethanol, the Tongaat Hulett subsidiary producing sugar at first and then ethanol from the molasses.

In 2008, the State-turn Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) sought out investment partners to rehabilitate their properties in and around the country.

Two of these properties were the Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi Estates, situated in the south-eastern part of Zimbabwe.

As a result, two agricultural companies linked to Rautenbach, Macdom (Private) Limited and Rating Investments (Private) Limited, entered into build-operate-and-transfer deal with Arda to rehabilitate and develop the land on the two estates.

Thereafter, Green Fuel was established to provide Zimbabwe with a locally-produced alternative fuel source, ethanol.

In 2011, the first ethanol was manufactured by Green Fuel.

Legislators are, however, not happy with the price disparities between ethanol from Triangle and Green Fuel, amid suspicions that some powerful forces in government could be lining their pockets at the expense of the ordinary citizens.

“Green Fuel is doing corrupt officials in government and Zera a favour, not the people of Zimbabwe.

“These corrupt activities must end. As Parliament, we want to protect taxpayer’s money. We want to know who is protecting Billy,” the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Temba Mliswa, said.

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