Zanu PF steps up plot to wreck BP & Shell deal

BULAWAYO – As Robert Mugabe urged his supporters to grab other people's private property, Zanu PF sponsored groups have stepped up the effort to wreck the acquisition of BP and Shell assets in Zimbabwe by Jersey-registered Masawara Investment Company.\r\n

BP and Shell, which are disposing of their assets in the country, recently announced that they had reached an agreement to sell their local operations to Masawara.

However, the chairperson of Bulawayo-based Zanu PF backed business terror organisation Ukhozi Consortium, Mr Kudzani Masuku, said the selling of the assets was not in the best interests of the country.

“Indigenisation laws are clearly designed to facilitate a shift in ownership structure that will result in a broad-based control of the economy by local investors.

“It appears BP is determined to prevent its assets from benefiting genuine indigenous oil firms,” Mr Masuku said in a statement.

He said resuscitating a genuinely indigenous petroleum industry after going through an economic downturn had been difficult and bringing a foreign business in the industry was disturbing.

“We are uncomfortable that control of such a strategic asset should fall in the hands of a foreign company that will disregard the co-operation we have created among us. We doubt that Masawara will understand the rough road we have travelled in,” he said.

He said indigenous fuel companies would not accept the acquisition.

He said the new player was likely to have a hostile agenda hidden behind the mask of transnational corporation.

Masawara is set to take over the BP and Shell assets through its wholly owned subsidiary FMI Zimbabwe.

The transaction involves acquisition of the entire local business of BP and Shell, which comprises 73 retail sites and storage facilities with a capacity of about 60 million litres.

In Harare another Zanu PF backed affirmative action group, the Indigenous Petroleum Group of Zimbabwe (IPGZ) challenged BP & Shell Marketing Services (BPSMS)’s deal to sell its local refined oils assets to business tycoon Shingai Mutasa’s Masawara plc.

Early this month, BPSMS announced it had agreed a deal to sell the assets that include depots and service stations to FMI Zimbabwe, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-listed Masawara plc.

The Shell Petroleum Company trades under the BP franchise in Zimbabwe.

Collectively, BPSM local assets include 73 retail sites, six country depots, four town depots and a lubricants plant, now dormant, among others.

The facilities are currently being rented by a number of indigenous refined oils dealers, among them Redan Petroleum, Sakunda Energy and Comoil, which were also vying for the same assets.

In a letter to David Chapfika, the chairperson of the National Indiginisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB), IPGZ secretary-general Crosby Mashiri questioned why incumbent leases were not accorded the right of first refusal in the deal.

Mashiri further contended the affected dealers sustained the industry during the country’s gravest fuel crisis in 2007/2008 when foreign operators stopped trading.

“We write to express our displeasure with the above transaction.

We feel the process was flawed and was targeted to benefit specific interests,” said Mashiri. 

“Our view is that the invested funds are the seller’s funds.

We believe in the empowerment of the majority and not continued enrichment of one against broadbased economic empowerment”.

Mashiri urged a forensic audit of Masawara plc.

“Is this not warehousing by BP which will then try to get back into Zimbabwe when sustainable volumes are reached?” he said.