via Kasukuwere accused of tractor scam – The Zimbabwean 8 July 2015
Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere is involved in a fresh controversy amid reports that he used his political muscle to divert scores of tractors provided under a national programme to his own private companies.
The tractors were acquired under a Japanese loan to the Zimbabwean government in May and were meant to benefit smallholder farmers. Zanu (PF) sources revealed to the Zimbabwean that Kasukuwere grabbed close to 100 tractors under the loan agreement with the intention of selling them at a profit.
It could not be immediately established how many tractors were involved in the scheme, but the sources indicated it was more than 1,000. Under the loan facility, farmers are supposed to acquire the relatively cheap tractors as a way of boosting agricultural production.
“Kasukuwere managed to cheat government and took the tractors under the guise that they were being claimed by various companies involved in commercial farming. While he will still repay the loans, he is bound to reap more than $1 million because, in essence, he is re-selling them at a huge profit,” said a senior Zanu (PF) member close to the deals.
The market value of each tractor is estimated at some $35,000, while they have been acquired through the government loan facility at just over half the price. Some of the companies that Kasukuwere is said to be using as fronts to acquire the tractors are Haingate Investments, Zim Tractors and Irrigazim.
The companies are registered in the names of relatives and friends, who include one TD Kasukuwere, M. Gatse and G.Hotera. The sources said these people front as the directors of the firms that have received the tractors. “Even if Kasukuwere was not selling the tractors, grabbing such a big number is unethical and flies in the face of empowering black farmers. Why should an individual take all those tractors meant for smallholder farmers?” said the second source.
Accused of plotting
It was not possible to get comment from Kasukuwere as he was not answering his phone and did not respond to sms questions.
He has in the past accused his political rivals of plotting to tarnish his image.
President Robert Mugabe in May commissioned agricultural equipment worth $38.6 million under the Japanese loan deal as a way of boosting food production under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) food security and nutrition cluster.
Mugabe said the equipment, which included the tractors, fertiliser spreaders and irrigation kits, should benefit the whole nation. “We got this equipment as our national equipment, as our instrument to raise our standards of living,” Mugabe said. “Let us go and be more productive and produce not just for our stomachs but also for export so we can have external earnings coming in.”
The government is supposed to repay the loan over 15 years at an interest rate of two percent per annum, with Agribank being the administrator of the loan. Individual farmers get the tractors and pay government through the bank when they acquire the equipment.
Kasukuwere, who is also the ruling Zanu (PF) national organiser, is currently embroiled in a battle with vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, reportedly over Mugabe’s succession. He is reported to be part of a group of Young Turks calling itself Generation Forty (G40) gunning for the 91-year old’s position.
His reported collaborator in G40, Jonathan Moyo, was mysteriously suspended from running the information recently after he won the Tsholotsho seat in the June 10 by-election. He had been appointed to the ministry as a non-constituency minister.
Kasukuwere was reported to be the target of a probe by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) two years ago, but the investigations did not take off after commissioners were in turn accused of criminal activities.
He has already appeared before a parliamentary portfolio committee on indigenisation where he is being probed on the misuse of funds in the ministry which he used to head. The committee is pressing to have him reappear, but the minister has accused it of political victimisation.
The probe is said to also have targeted three other ministers, Obert Mpofu, Ignatius Chombo and Nicholas Goche.