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‘Keep politics out of ethanol project’

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Science and Technology minister Heneri Dzinotyiwei has told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology that the Chisumbanje ethanol project could become viable if “political machinations” affecting its management could be resolved.

Dzinotyiwei said although the ministry was not part of the project, there was much benefit the country could derive from it, if political problems were ironed out.

“We are not part of the Chisumbanje project. But it is potentially a very viable project through which Zimbabwe could become a leading country in Africa. I hope the politics, contractual differences can be resolved amicably so that we derive benefit from it,” Dzinotyiwei said in response to questions raised by the committee members chaired by Insiza South MP Siyabonga Ncube.

Dzinotyiwei said the idea was workable as had been proved in countries like Brazil where blending was pegged at 90% which had helped cut off the fossil component.

“The idea of blending petrol with ethanol works. Let’s separate the project management, investors and so on from politics and look at it strictly as a scientific issue. The potential we have can make this country cut on petrol imports to a quarter,” he said.

The committee also asked if the project would not suffer the same fate as the jatropha project that was introduced with hype, only to remain a pipedream, years later.

Dzinotyiwei said the problem was that government often got over-excited by projects before establishing whether or not they would be viable.

The Mt Hampden biodiesel fuel manufacturing project was established in 2007 as a joint venture between Zimbabwe and Yuon Woo of South Korea.

“As of now, we are aware that the project is still at the experimental level. It is not yet commercial. The problem that often happens is that we realise the (jatropha) seed is not quite enough,” he said.

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