Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s business ally Billy Rautenbach has come under renewed pressure to stop poisoning cattle in Manicaland with chemicals from his ethanol plant.
Rautenbach is also being pressed to pay government taxes after it emerged he set up the $700 million Chisumbanje ethanol plant without complying with environmental assessment requirements. Rautenbach set up the Green Fuel/Macdom ethanol plant in 2009 in partnership with the parastatal Agricultural and Rural Development Authority without complying with the regulations or paying the fees, which stood at about $20 million at that time.
Platform for Youth Development (PYD), which represents affected farmers says Rautenbach has been “avoiding the EIA process, opting for a cheaper route of polluting and paying fines than to fulfil the legislative requirements of carrying out EIA processes”.
“Gone should be the days when the company conducts its business in secret because the outcomes of their secret processes have often affected people as witnessed by the various reports of death of livestock linked to effluent water from the ethanol plant,” a PYD spokesperson said.
The Environmental Management Agency recently slashed environmental impact assessment fees from three percent of total project cost to one percent in a desperate bid to make Rautenbach and other big industrialists comply.
Activists said the fees reduction should be an opportunity for Rautenbach to comply. Green Fuel claims to have fulfilled the requirements of the EMA Act but has refused to produce its assessment report or make public its plan to mitigate the harmful effects of ethanol production.
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