Zimbabwe Digital News
Late last year, at the Brawlers end of year function, Brawlers President Tau Nkomo delivered a memorandum to the Zimbabwe Embassy, received at the event by Envoy Makaruru.
In the wake of the Zimbabwe Government cancelling the $400m Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group’s National Railways of Zimbabwe and Transnet consortium, Zimbabwe Digital News this week caught up with Brawlers President Tau Nkomo, and spoke to him about the mood in the Brawlers community over the developments.
Nkomo said that he would have loved to deliver his message in November to Ambassador David Hamadziripi in person – but since the Ambassador did not manage to come – he was happy to settle delivery of the message to Wa Makaruru – who was representing the Ambassador.
And in his message, Nkomo did not mince his words, saying that the Brawlers were extremely angry at what the Zimbabwe government had done – as some of the actions were contrary to the spirit of bringing investment into Zimbabwe.
This is what Nkomo said this week:
Question 1: Have you received a response from either Wa Makaruru or the Ambassador David Hamadziripi over the memo/speech that you gave at CCJ?
Answer: Unfortunately not, there has been absolutely no communication from the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria in that regard
Question 2: Did you follow up with the Ambassador over whether Va Makaruru actually delievered your memo/speech?
Answer: I thought it would be best to give the embassy some time to respond knowing how busy they can be. But honestly I don’t see them attending to the matter, at least not anytime soon
Question 3: Since you have not received a response, what could the reason for the Ambassador to take so long to get back to you?
Answer: That’s a difficult one Zimbabwe Digital News. Firstly it could be he didn’t get the message, secondly he is still processing it or thirdly its just not a priority for his office but he is the best person to tell why his office has not responded to the issue yet
Question 4: Are you still expecting a response, or you are just going to let go, and let things be?
Answer: I am reliably informed that most of the issues raised by diasporans through the embassy barely get attention from Harare. I would be very happy to be given a platform to discuss the treatment we getting from our beloved country as foreign based businessmen and women who wish to invest back home, I believe there is a lot we can do to create or let me say recreate employment since our target is struggling SOEs and other idle companies which used to play pivotal roles in employment creation. Zimbabwe has potential, our biggest challenge is corruption rather than anything else.
Question 5: As Brawlers, is it your view that DIDG was treated badly by the government of Zimbabwe over the $400m NRZ deal? How else could the deal have been handled?
Answer: DIDG is an initiative which was founded by a collective of individuals from the Brawlers fold and is majority owned by a broader number of Brawlers beyond those who formed it initially
DIDG won the tender fairly, did everything that was asked of them but things just didn’t work out, all I know is employment creation has been halted, a project with the capability to transform the Zimbabwean economy has been thrown into uncertainty.
Question 6: You say that the corruption and looting is destroying Zimbabwe. As Brawlers/DIDG what are you going to do about the 1. corruption and 2. looting that is destroying Zimbabwe?
Answer: As indicated last year when I gave my speech, we are not a political party, ways of dealing with corruption and looting by the government calls for political intervention. The stalling of the DIDG deal says a lot about corruption, how do we rebuild by destroying the foundation? The fundamentals have to be taken seriously, the current government calls itself the new dispensation but whats new if old ways are prevailing? All we can do as Brawlers is influence our own members, some of whom are in public service, to model the conduct that the majority of Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora seek.
Question 7: You say that the future of the children remains bleak, and the Zimbabwe of pre-1990s will not come back. What is Brawlers/DIDG doing to return the country of Zimbabwe the functionalities before 1990?
Answer: Brawlers promotes civic awareness and supports individual and collective actions of its members in social or business initiatives that have a positive bearing on Zimbabwe and its citizens at home and abroad.
We believe that many inward investment initiatives, such as one earmarked by DIDG which has now stalled, are the ones that will put Zimbabwe not only just to its former glory but rather to new glory. We do not necessarily believe we must think of a good Zimbabwe with a historical cap or view it from a rear view mirror but we should see a better vision and wider view of a Zimbabwe that lies ahead of us. We just must all drive towards it in unison.
Question 8: We understand that some corrupt people in the Transport Ministry wanted to have the $400m deposited into Zimbabwe as cash, but DIDG refused, for obvious reasons. In your own words, what actually happened to the $400m DIDG/Transnet/NRZ deal?
Answer: What we understand at this juncture is that the NRZ deal has been hampered by bureaucratic interference or some sort of misunderstanding. The matter is being looked at closely by lawyers so there isn’t much really to add or comment further till the government officials involved realise the impact of not concluding this deal to the economy, to the diaspora engagement plans as well as image of Government in relation to their mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”. At this moment our position as Brawlers is that we encourage fair and open engagement between the ministry and investors into NRZ who are DIDG as the winners of the legal tender.
Question 9: You had said that as Brawlers President, and that if need be, you would go to the President’s office in Harare yourself to deliver the memorandum. Are you still going to go to President Mnangagwa’s office, seeing that the Embassy appears to have ignored your memo/speech of November 2019?
Answer: Like I said earlier on, I am not sure whether the embassy ignored my memo or are still processing it, what I can say is there is still a lot we can do in Zimbabwe. President Mnangagwa invited Zimbabwean business people based in South Africa to Pretoria soon after taking over power from Mugabe, he spoke about the country being open for business so yes I would be happy to say to him we being shut out but then on the other hand I know he is aware of everything that’s happening.
Question 10: We understand that DIDG is now channelling some of its investments into South Africa and Namibia. What will it take for DIDG to return to Zimbabwe?
Answer: At the moment, as any investor would, DIDG is taking a prudent approach until the NRZ recapitalisation deal is resolved. Folding hands while waiting for the second coming is not an option.
Question 11: We understand that DIDG is going ahead with the lawsuit to sue the Minister for wasted time and losses suffered during the whole $400m deal?
Answer: Only a fair outcome would provide relief to DIDG and allow Zimbabweans who have committed to find investment for their country to do so. However we can not presuppose what the outcome of a legal process would be, all we can do is hope and put faith in a just process
Question 12: Does the issue of the $400m deal call for political intervention?
Answer: Brawlers is an apolitical organisation, this out of necessity as our membership comes from various political extractions and we always encourage productive engagements amongst our members. We do not have a side nor do we intend to choose any. We choose Zimbabweans, embrace all its people and support social and economic development initiatives.
Question 13: What is the Brawlers doing to expand its network and capacity among the Zimbabweans in the diaspora, and what other projects, apart from those mentioned in newspapers Nyanza and Airken is the organisation going to do to work with in Zimbabwe, and to influence events on the ground in Zimbabwe?
Answer: Brawlers are all over the world, we are surely working on other projects which will be relieved in due course. Doing work in Zimbabwe remains a priority for the Brawlers, all we need is a conducive environment
Question 14: Zimbabwe Digital news has covered events at Brawlers and DIDG. How do we strengthen the media partnership?
Answer: As Brawlers we are very willing to work with Zimbabwe Digital News but you also need to follow our events closely in pursuit of the relationship and other opportunities. I know our deputy treasurer Leo Mapfirakupa has been very active in terms of articles about our games, however he has been very busy of late. May you kindly liaise with him directly on the way forward, I will also have a chat with him the next time we on the fairways and greens though he’s rarely on the fairways (lol).
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