Sakunda feels heat over Parly probe 

Source: Sakunda feels heat over Parly probe – DailyNews Live

Farayi Machamire      16 February 2018

HARARE – Parliament has blasted Sakunda Holdings (Sakunda) for attempting
to unduly influence the portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture and
Rural Resettlement from investigating Command Agriculture financing and
belittling the legislature’s oversight role.

This comes after Sakunda attempted to have the portfolio committee back
off from its probe saying it must await the outcome of a
soon-to-be-conducted audit by the Finance ministry covering all Command
Agriculture activities.

The portfolio committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the
financing of the Command Agriculture programme.

Government engaged Sakunda Holdings to bankroll Command Agriculture after
realising that commercial banks were not lending to farmers.

This comes amid opposition complaints that the financing by Sakunda is
being done parallel to the legal framework of the Consolidated Revenue
Fund for which oversight is in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe through
their elected representatives in Parliament.

Sakunda had been miffed by a letter written by Parliament to Poitre (Pvt)
Ltd requesting that the company submit various documents to the portfolio
committee which include the company’s contract with Sakunda, bank
statements back dating to December 2016 and proof of purchase of inputs
and equipment.

The request did not sit well with Sakunda who took it upon themselves “to
call Parliament to order.”

Sakunda wrote a letter to Parliament calling for the recusal of the Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement portfolio committee chairperson Justice
Mayor Wadyajena alleging he was unable to fairly adjudicate over the
matter as he was conflicted and was “using his position to fight personal
The conflict, Sakunda alleged, arises from the fact that Sakunda Holdings
is currently engaged in a number of legal cases against Wadyajena.

Sakunda also insinuated that “someone” in the Wadyajena-headed committee
unethically accessed its bank account records in a bid to tie Sakunda to
Poitre Pvt Ltd.

Wrote Sakunda:  “Poitre (Pvt) Ltd, upon receiving this letter, approached
Sakunda for clarification as they have not had any dealings with respect
to Command Agriculture. It is for this reason that we believe it is
necessary that Sakunda provides a response.

“Before we provide clarification on some of the matters referred in your
letter, as Sakunda Holdings we would like to register our complaint,
distress and discontent as to the matter in which the portfolio committee
appears to be conducting its business with regards to the Command
Agriculture programme and in particular Sakunda Holdings’ operations with
respect to the same.”

The letter was met with disgust by Parliament which poured scorn on
Sakunda for taking it upon itself to reply to a letter that was not
addressed to it in the first place but to Poitre (Pvt) Ltd.

Clerk of Parliament Misheck Chokuda insisted the inquiry would go on
despite a parallel inquiry being conducted by the Finance ministry,
reminding Sakunda to respect the doctrine of separation of powers as
expounded in the Constitution.
Chokuda said allegations that someone had sight of Sakunda Holdings’ bank
statements were unfounded and called on the  integrated energy supplier to
provide collaborative evidence to substantiate the allegation which
remained “mere conjecture or a calculated attempt to stampede the
committee from undertaking its work.”

“If as you aver in your letter, Poitre (Pvt) Ltd had nothing to do with
the Command Agriculture Scheme, they should have simply stated in their
response to Parliament rather than approach yourselves,” Chokuda said in
the missive.

“Firstly, it is our considered view that there is no legal basis for
requesting the recusal of Wadyajena from presiding over the inquiry by the
committee. In the first instance, the allegation that Wadyajena is
conflicted on the basis of the High Court cases you cited does not appear
to hold water in the absence of any information that evidently
demonstrates that the cited cases are related in any form or manner to the
Command Agriculture Scheme. Unless, of course, you can prove otherwise,
this remains mere conjecture.

“Additionally, I must bring it to your attention that the decision to
conduct an inquiry into the financing of the Command Agriculture Scheme is
as a result of a resolution of the entire committee and not Wadyajena

“In fact, Wadyajena was appointed as chairperson of the committee on
December 20, 2017 by which time the committee’s work plan had already been
adopted under a different chairperson and the enquiry in question had
already commenced.

“Wadyajena, therefore, is simply leading a process that was agreed to by
the committee prior to his appointment as a chairperson. Given this
background, you must respectfully disagree with the allegation that his
continued participation in these matters will taint work and effort of the
committee and that of Parliament itself. On the other hand, it is your
unsubstantial allegations and insinuations that border on tainting and
belittling the role of the committee.”

Chokuda reminded Sakunda that Parliament enjoys constitutional supremacy
in the legislative function as well as in providing oversight on the
executive and all institutions and agencies of government at every level.

“Therefore your suggestion that Parliament suspends its inquiry to allow
the Finance ministry to conduct an audit of Command Agriculture
activities, fails to recognise the primacy of doctrine of separation of

“Any attempt to direct when and how Parliament should conduct its
constitutionally-mandated functions can be perceived, regrettably, as
undue interference in the independence of Parliament,” Chokuda said in his

He insisted that the committee will proceed with its inquiry “hopefully
without undue encumbrance” and remained hopeful that Poitre (Pvt) ltd
“would respond to the issues raised by the committee.”

“And you will desist from responding to or involving yourselves in matters
that are not directed to you. If, during the course of its enquiry, the
committee deems it prudent to request Sakunda Holdings’ input, we will
write to you in that regard.”