GMB thrown into quandary

Source: GMB thrown into quandary – DailyNews Live

BUSINESS WRITER      5 July 2017

HARARE – The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has been thrown into a quandary,
as its general manager Rockie Mutenha faces a lengthy medical layoff –
barely two months after taking control of the strategic parastatal.

While board chairman Charles Chikaura has briefly confirmed the
ex-Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) boss’ rush to India for medical
attention, questions abound regarding the institution’s decision to hire a
60-year-old executive and the implementation of several key programmes
such as the maize import-substitution initiative are not in jeopardy
without leadership direction or supervision.

“He will be back from his medical leave soon,” he told businessdaily by
telephone on Tuesday, adding further that the GMB had put in place
sufficient measures to ensure it takes care of the 250 000 metric tonnes
of maize expected this current season and other logistics under strategic
grain reserve requirements or mandate.

“We conducted interviews and Mutenha came out the best candidate. It’s not
a crime to appoint someone who is 60 . . . when he is qualified.

He proved himself when he was chief executive of AMA,” Chikaura said.

While the former Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe senior
staffer has vehemently denied knowledge of the GMB boss’ alleged relations
to Agriculture minister Joseph Made, the ex-central banker was not readily
available for further comment or clarifications that 30 percent of key
positions were being manned by people on an acting capacity or basis.

“I am not aware that he is related to minister Made. The appointment was
made at board level after we had interviewed all the candidates and we
only made recommendations to the minister,” Chikaura said.

Established in 1931 as the Maize Control Board, Mutenha’s organisation is
expected to benefit a lot from President Robert Mugabe’s command
agriculture scheme as total produce will go to it.

With over two million tonnes of grain expected to be delivered to 80-plus
depots countrywide, the GMB is also expected to raise $8 million for
refurbishing silos to store that bumper crop – but analysts say the
current leadership challenges present uncertainty too.

Apart from that, the grains parastatals is also expected to play a key
role under the command wheat and wheat project, which officials argue is
supposed to save the cash-strapped Harare administration millions of
dollars in grain imports.

In addition to managing grain harvests, GMB also value adds and trades
commodities such as maize-meal, rice, cereals and oil seeds.

Its main objective, however, is to ensure national food security through
production, procurement and the management of the strategic grain reserve
– and just as it seeks to be a commercially viable entity.