BY BUSINESS REPORTER
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has sought to absolve itself and government of any wrongdoing after Auditor-General Mildred Chiri revealed in her 2019 report that the State entity lost US$1,4 million in a botched maize import deal when it contracted a local company to import 10 000 metric tonnes of maize.
Chiri said sometime in 2019, GMB contracted an unnamed company to import maize on its behalf, but the company delivered part of the consignment but failed to honour the rest.
“The (GMB) board contracted a local company to import 10 000 metric tonnes (mt) of maize on its behalf. An advance payment of US$3 900 000 was made for 10 000mt to facilitate the imports.
“The company delivered 3 800mt of grain worth US$1 482 000, leaving a balance of 6 200mt.
“However, the contract was amended for the supplier to deliver soyabeans instead of maize. The company subsequently delivered soyabeans worth US$1 418 000. A reconciliation of the value of maize and soyabeans received to what the supplier had been paid revealed that soyabeans worth US$1 000 000 had not been delivered,” the audit report said.
In a statement , GMB chief executive Rockie Mutenha sought to clarify issues raised in the audit.
“The facts of the matter are that in 2016, a local company entered into an agreement with the government of Zimbabwe represented by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and RBZ, for the supply 10 000mt of maize. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) as the paying agent and GMB being the receiving agent,” Mutenha said. “Upon signing of the contract, an amount of US$3 900 000 was deposited into a local Escrow Account for the purchase of the said maize. Being an Escrow Account, no party is able to draw money unless everyone in satisfied with the performance of the contract and particularly so, the buyer.”
He added that GMB upon receipt of maize, would acknowledge receipt and on the basis of that, RBZ would release the money.
“GMB received 3 800mt of the 10 000mt and upon confirmation, RBZ paid US$1 482 000 from the Escrow Account,” Mutenha said.
“Following a ban on exporting of maize from the country of origin, the same contract was converted for the supply of soyabeans in lieu of the balance of 6 200mt of maize.”
He said the supplier failed to perform and only supplied 297mt of soya beans at a cost of US$181 268 and was paid accordingly.
“A balance of US$2 236 732 was left in the Escrow Account which was subsequently recalled by RBZ because there was no performance on the part of the supplier,” Mutenha pointed out. “At the time of the audit in 2019, the balance was still in the Escrow Account until it was recalled on 28 February 2020. That means there was no financial loss on the part of the GMB or the government of Zimbabwe as the supplier was only paid for what was delivered.”