Millers fail to appear before Parly over US$27m

Source: Millers fail to appear before Parly over US$27m | The Herald 12 FEB, 2020

Millers fail to appear before Parly over US$27m
Justice Mayor Wadyajena

Zvamaida Murwira and Rudo Muchedzi
The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) failed to appear before a Parliamentary portfolio committee yesterday to explain how it used a US$27 million facility to import wheat and refurbish the Grain Marketing Board silos.

GMAZ, led by Mr Tafadzwa Musarara, declined to attend yesterday’s meeting saying that the chairman of the committee on Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Gokwe Nembudziya) was biased.

He said the financial arrangements were a matter for the Public Accounts Committee.

The GMAZ said the financial arrangements were a confidential matter between itself and the Government.

Cde Wadyajena was sticking to his guns that the GMAZ was obliged to meet his committee.

He said Parliament would now invoke its standing orders and charge GMAZ with contempt of Parliament.

“They feel this committee is unfair with them and they prefer the Public Accounts Committee,” said Cde Wadyajena.

“They have engaged their lawyers to fight us. They have to appear before us.

“The committee resolved that we are going to summon them.

“We want information from them. They received US$27 million from Government and we want them to explain how they used it. There are two issues.

“The first is rehabilitation of GMB silos which they claimed they did, but GMB said no silos were refurbished.

“The other issue is the money they got for importing wheat. We have got confirmation from RBZ that they got US$27 million. So, we are merely performing our constitutional oversight duty.

“Their lawyers wrote about four letters, they do not want me to chair the meeting. I do not understand why.”

In their latest letter dated January 22, 2020, lawyers representing GMAZ said their client felt they would not be treated  fairly.

The lawyers said they expressed the same reservations last year against Cde Wadyajena and the agreement GMAZ had with Government was confidential, adding that disbursement of funds was done by GMAZ’s financial advisors, and legislators should direct any queries to them.

“As far as appearing before the committee on the nominated date is concerned, we are instructed to point out that a formal meeting is not necessary for purposes of providing documentary ‘proof of financing silo repairs countrywide’,” said the lawyers.

“Further and in any event, our client’s executive have other prior engagements on the proposed date of the meeting.

“We are further instructed, for what it is worth, to communicate our client’s view that the issues being raised are not for the portfolio committee on Agriculture, Lands, Water and Rural Resettlement.

“The issues relate to a tripartite funding transaction involving our client, a parastatal and the Government.

“That is an issue for the Public Accounts Committee.”