A parliamentary report on Command Agriculture has indicated that former Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) superintended over a shady and illegal process through dubious approvals of Treasury Bills that have saddled the government with a debt of nearly US$1.6 billion.
According to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report presented on Thursday Chinamasa and the RBZ disregarded the law in discharging the programme.
Members of Parliament are now calling on the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to probe their actions.
Parliamentarians have also called for a forensic audit to establish how much the country lost in the shady arrangement, done outside the tender process.
MPs under the committee chaired by Gweru Urban legislator Brian Dube said they also want the executive to take the findings of the report seriously and act.
Several companies including Sakunda Holdings owned by business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s adviser, are implicated in the report. Sakunda got millions of dollars without going through requisite tender processes.
Other companies which took part in the Command Agriculture programme are FSG, Quton, Pedstock, Cottco, Sable Chemicals, Valley Seeds, Seed Co, Windmill and ZFC.
The MPs said the report came about as a result of a “normal routine” that looked into audited accounts for the years 2017 and 2018.
MPs said this quickly imploded into a major inquiry when the committee noted a huge “unallocated reserve” amounting to US$1 559 713 867 exposed by the 2017 report by the Auditor-General on the ministry of Agriculture that established the variance. The report read in part:
According to a schedule received from the Auditor-General, the ministry of Agriculture was supposed to have received US$1 633 617 652 from Treasury. However, as at 10 May 2018, the ministry of Agriculture confirmed having received only US$73 903 785.
Although the Auditor-General’s reports relate the figures to the ‘Unallocated Reserve’, the amounts referred to above were in fact unbudgeted for expenditure spent outside Parliament’s approved budget as shown in the figures in the Appropriation Account, the Budget and the Blue Book.
The PAC said these huge amounts were spent outside the Appropriation Act in breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Public Finance Management Act.
Agriculture ministry officials said the Finance ministry and the RBZ were in full control of the Command Agriculture.
MPs accused the ministry of Agriculture of not being proactive, adding they should have played a meaningful role in their operations by interrogating their role in the whole maize production matrix.
Ministry of Finance officials admitted that there had been unauthorised expenditure through Command Agriculture for the years 2017 and 2018 as captured in the Auditor-General’s statements.
The report says RBZ governor, John Mangundya, felt that the issues of compliance with the constitution and the law were not his problem but were the ministry of Finance’s problem.