via NRZ owed more than $2m by GMB by Dumisani Nsingo for SundayNews Sunday, 13 October 2013
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) owes the struggling National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) more than $2 million accumulated through freighting of food under the Government’s grain loan scheme.
Addressing the Government’s heads of departments in Matobo district before touring two cattle feedlots in the area last Thursday, NRZ board chairman Dr Kotsho Dube said the parastatal would transport 137 000 metric tonnes of maize sourced from Zambia in the next two weeks.
The maize is part of Government’s efforts to reduce the huge food deficit facing the country as millions grapple to avert hunger following the exhaustion of food reserves.
“As the NRZ we have managed to transport 300 000 metric tonnes from Zambia and we are left with bringing 137 000 metric tonnes of which we hope to do so in the next two week. Although GMB owes us more than $2 million we will continue bringing the maize because it’s a priority programme. We hope to continue delivering up to March next year, that will cover the programme.
There is severe food deficit in Matabeleland, Masvingo, Midlands and some parts of Mashonaland. Our trucks have been directed to deliver the maize to their destinations despite having other priorities,” Dr Dube said.
The GMB indebtedness to NRZ is one of many cases of inter-parastatal debts that have affected a number of Government entities’ operations over the years.
The NRZ needs $400 million in the short-to-medium term to improve capacity and $2 billion over the next 10 years to be fully recapitalised.
NRZ has 3 226 wagons yet the economy requires about 3 000 wagons. It has 23 wagons, with 19 required by the economy with the major problem facing the parastatal being the ageing of its equipment, which sometimes leads to breakdowns and delays in movement of goods.
GMB general manager Mr Albert Mandizha confirmed that the State-owned enterprise owed NRZ but said it had to be taken into cognisance that the parastatal amassed the debt through Government’s programmes and as such it relies on Treasury to offset the arrear(s).
“I can confirm that we owe NRZ more than $2 million and in actual fact we owe road transporters about $7,5 million but one has to understand who owes who for instance the grain loan scheme is a Government social responsibility platform just like the payment of farmers. We have talked to the Minister of Finance about those issues and we are optimistic it will be rectified soon.
The other issue one should understand is that we were in an inclusive government but now that it has ended we are likely to see changes already the present Government has disbursed $9,2 million payment to farmers in three months something which the then Minister of Finance failed to do in 18 months,” Mr Mandizha said.