By Nkosana Dlamini
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has come out in full denial of wheat procurement scheme fund embezzlement, externalisation and perjury accusations levelled mainly against its national chair Tafadzwa Musarara by parliament’s lands and agriculture committee.
Following the damning report tabled in parliament this week, GMAZ accused committee chair Justice Mayor Wadyajena of inherent bias against Musarara and called for a restart of the entire hearing process under a different portfolio committee chairmanship.
Wadyajena’s committee, in its report, urged a police, ZACC and ZIMRA probe to “ascertain the whereabouts of the US$28.2 Million which was not accounted for by Mr Tafadzwa Musarara and GMAZ”.
The committee also recommended a lifestyle audit against the under-fire GMAZ boss who is also accused of favouring his milling firm Drotsky with lucrative contracts under the collective scheme supported by the central bank.
But in a statement co-signed by the cereal producers’ first and second vice presidents Masimba Dzomba and Chipo Nheta, GMAZ denied claims of prejudice against wheat millers.
“All millers who participated received their wheat stocks in FULL. Millers populated their local currency deposits into a GMAZ bank accounts and procured their foreign currency to pay supplier,” said GMAZ.
“We accounted for all allocated forex to millers for the period between 1 January 2015 to 11 March 2019 as requested in the leer written to GMAZ by Clerk of Parliament dated 13 March 2019.
“This amounts to circa USD26M. However, we continued to procure and pay (beyond these above-mentioned dates) for imported wheat in order to ensure adequate bread supplies in the country.”
Added GMAZ, “The wheat was procured on an unsecured loan facility arranged by our lead negotiator, the Chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara and the supplier made Drotsky (Private) Limited a consignee.
“Drostky (Private) Limited, which is owned by Chairman also participated in the facility like any other wheat miller. Wheat imports were then delivered to a bonded warehouse and released after payments were made to the Supplier.
“It is uncontroverted that circa 70,000 metric tonnes of wheat was brought into the country at a time the country needed it the most. This arrangement secured adequate national wheat supplies, and by extension bread, at that material time. Bills of entry are currently lying for inspection at our offices by the authorities.”
GMAZ said the organisation was “not a procurement entity in terms of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act which should be subjected to the parliamentary oversight. Section 119 of the Constitution limits the oversight role of parliament to the executive.”
“The importation of this wheat was done by private juristic persons who had the legal latitude to structure their own procurement rules in a fashion they so wished.
“Suffice to mention though is the fact that all requisite statutory permits, clearances and approvals were obtained both locally and outside the country.
“The key parties to this transaction are Millers, wheat supplier, remitting banks and RBZ. It should be noted that none of the above is aggrieved in this matter.
“We confirm that our National Chairman acted on behalf of the members from whom he derives his mandate and therefore all transactions were executed in a representative capacity and not in a personal capacity.
“If it pleases the Honourable Clerk of Parliament, in light of how badly we were treated as evidenced by numerous leers of complaints we wrote to him, we beg that the whole hearing process should be started de novo under a different portfolio chairmanship. We believe that Parliament will not be prejudiced as this is a matter of public interest which should be adjudicated fairly.”