TOBACCO mogul and owner of Pacific Cigarette Company (PCC), Adam Molai, has dismissed claims that he bankrolled a bid by former Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere to land the post of president in the just-ended election amid talk that the tax bill weighing on his company came as a result of his alleged ties with the former cabinet minister.
Kasukuwere’s presidential aspirations were thwarted after the court ruled he had been non-resident in his constituency for at least 18 months, which was a breach of the Electoral Act.
In an online Press briefing, Molai told journalists that the rumours are non-factual, saying: “I have never participated in politics and I would not be interested in funding any political campaign because my belief is I should remain apolitical. I also serve any government which is governing Zimbabwe, so in as much as I have heard that rumour, I would say that is not what happened.”
Added Molai: “There are always many speculations when an event happens and I have always made sure that I shy away from commenting on speculations. I have also made sure that as PCC we always focus on the facts we have at hand.”
After his company declared insolvency and was put under business rescue, sources close to the process say the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) was used by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to punish Molai for allegedly sponsoring Kasukuwere’s failed presidential bid in the just-ended general elections.
Molai’s PCC has been weighed down with a US$19 million tax bill as Mnangagwa’s administration faces accusations of weaponising taxation to deal with perceived political opponents.
However, Molai made it known that Kasukuwere was not only a former business partner in his first tobacco venture, but a distant relative too.
“I knew Saviour way before he became a politician. The first tobacco company that we formed before Savanna Tobacco, which I no longer remember the company name, I ran it with Saviour Kasukuwere and the late Solomon Tawengwa. That is when I first got to know Saviour Kasukuwere. So I can safely say he is my business associate,” Molai said.
“But you know as Africans we are all related. One of Saviour’s cousins is married to my cousin hence we have always been related with each other and I have always called him tezvara [in-law], hence our knowledge of each other went beyond being business associates.”
On the tax bill, Molai denied that his company evaded tax for three years, saying they paid over US$3million in taxes annually.
“I don’t believe that there is any company in Zimbabwe which can rake up a tax bill of over US$20 million within a period of three years, that’s why we are disputing it,” said Molai.
“From the year we started operating we have been audited every single year by Zimra, this shows that we are competent. All audits completed by Zimra up to 2017 had no issues, although there were only small issues which were addressed.”
Molai said had he not put the business under a judicial manager, the tax burden was threatening the existence of his business empire.
“We were at a position where we were no longer able to operate and when I saw that is where we were heading, that is when I made the decision of putting the business in business rescue, which then gets the business immediately operating again, hence as we speak the business is operating normally,” he told journalists.