Harare - President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday accused British
American Tobacco [JSE:BTI] (BAT) of using criminal means to kill its major
competitor, locally-owned Savanna Tobacco, in Zimbabawe.
Speaking at the ongoing Economic Empowerment conference
Mugabe said he had authentic information from his weekly intelligence briefings
linking BAT to the disappearance of savanna Tobacco’s delivery trucks.
“These are briefings we hear at our intelligence meetings
every week and if this is what you are doing in order to kill competition and
you do it in a bad way somebody will answer for it,” Mugabe said.
“It’s a huge case and it might affect you very soon,” he
“I hear money was being paid to the police so that they do
not do their jobs well and this appears authentic.”
Last week, local media reports said BATZ competitors -
Kingdom, Savanna Tobacco, Breco, Cutrag, Trednet and Chelsea - had lost
cigarettes valued at R100m to armed hijackers in just over a year while none of
BATZ’s products have been hijacked, prompting its competitors to believe the
largest cigarette manufacturer in the country was involved in industrial
espionage and possible sabotage.
Meanwhile BAT officially handed over a 20% stake to
The company handed over a 10% stake with about $10m at a
currently share value of around $4.50 per share to an employee share scheme and
another 10% to a Tobacco Trust.
The company also donated six tractors to the country’s major tobacco producing provinces and 50 laptops to Mugabe’s presidential computerisation scheme.