Green Fuel, Arda joint venture talks still on

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ARDA board chairman Basil Nyabadza said negotiations to conclude the joint venture to run the ethanol plant operated by Billy Rautenbach’s Chisumbanje-based Green Fuel in line with the country’s indigenisation laws are at an advanced stage and will be completed before the end of next month.

By Paidamoyo Muzulu
Senior Reporter

Rautenbach controls the ethanol project through two companies Ratings and Macdom that are farming cane on former Arda estates at Middle Sabi and Chisumbanje.

Its ownership and indigenisation plan have been a subject of intense debate in both Cabinet and Parliament in the last four years amidst claims that Rautenbach got the go-ahead on the ambitious ethanol plant through political machinations.

Despite indigenisation rhetoric from Zanu PF, Rautenbach, who owns 90% of the project, started operating Green Fuel and even had the State introduce mandatory ethanol blending.

Nyabadza said the negotiations had been ongoing and will be concluded soon.

“The negotiations are work in progress and we hope that the deal will be reached before the end of next month,” Nyabadza said.

Arda currently has 10% shareholding of the massive project despite its contribution of over 20 000 hectares of land and other infrastructure like canals that were in place before the project started.

Successive Agriculture ministers have failed to furnish Parliament with the ownership structure of Green Fuel despite several calls from MPs in the Agriculture portfolio committee.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made confirmed the ongoing discussions, but said he could not give finer details since the matter is sub judice after a Harare man Thabani Mpofu applied to the High Court to stop mandatory blending beyond E10. Mpofu, in his application, cited Energy minister and Green Fuels as respondents.

“The deal will be concluded in due course and brought to the ministry, but I cannot give further details to a matter that is before the courts,” Made said.
So far the government has backtracked after it rescinded a Statutory Instrument that called for the mandatory blending of E15 and E20 that was supposed to come on board in March this year.