BY VENERANDA LANGA
CLOSE to 100 truckloads of Zimbabwe’s wheat imports are holed up in Beira after Cyclone Idai damaged infrastructure and made most roads impassable.
Chairperson of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Tafadzwa Musarara revealed this after appearing before the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture.
Musarara had been summoned to give oral evidence on the procurement of grain and wheat by GMAZ, foreign currency allocations that GMAZ received from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) from January 2015 to March 2019. The committee wanted proof of all wheat acquittals, names and contacts of suppliers and transporters and donations made by GMAZ.
During the committee meeting, Wadyajena alleged that Musarara had approached senior government officials, the military and intelligence services seeking protection so that he does not appear before Parliament.
“I thought the purpose of the committee meeting was for me to give an update on the wheat situation as we are in another drought period. Logistics wise, Beira is currently inaccessible with close to 100 trucks of wheat that are supposed to come to Zimbabwe stuck there. The wheat is now wet and we thought we were going to share this with the committee,” Musarara said.
“However, there is a ship with our wheat which will be docking in Maputo and the load will go through Chiqualaquala via Rutenga and then come to Harare.”
Musarara said the load of wheat from Maputo is expected in the country in two weeks, adding that bakers were meanwhile only getting 45% to 50% of wheat requirements.
He said the country was growing 200 000 tonnes of wheat when the requirement was 400 000 tonnes, adding that the country’s wheat was gristed, implying that bakers would have to mix it with other imported wheat in order to produce quality bread.
On allegations of seeking protection from the army, Musarara said: “I do not know anything about it. I was surprised when the committee chairperson said it. We were going to share with the committee every nostro dollar that we received. Actually, there is a legacy debt of $8 million owed to millers and suppliers have stopped supplying us and we have proof of payment.”
Documents that Musarara handed over to the committee showed that RBZ released foreign currency to GMAZ on three occasions since 2018. The first release was $12,45 million, then $2,5 million and $11,18 million to a company called Drosk Private Limited for onward transmission to other millers.
Musarara said the wheat shipments that they received since 2018 were 65 000 tonnes which came in multiples of 30 tonnes. He could not produce the contact details of the suppliers and Wadyajena said he still needed the documents for a meeting rescheduled for April 2.
The GMAZ chairperson claimed he only received the letter from Parliament on Wednesday and the documents requested could be as much as 145 tonnes of paper, so he had no time to prepare them all.
“We have nothing to hide and we will bring all the documents,” Musarara said.