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Maize meal 'cartel' boss evades MPs over US$27m RBZ payment

12 Feb 2020 at 10:40hrs | Views
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe  (GMAZ) chairman Tafadzwa Musarara, accused of running a cartel by the Zanu-PF Youth League two weeks ago, on Tuesday ducked out of appearing before a parliamentary committee to explain how his association spent US$27 million accessed from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

GMAZ has been at the forefront of wheat and maize imports, financed by the RBZ under a controversial subsidy scheme which also extends to fuel and fertilizer.

Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu-PF), who chairs the portfolio committee on lands, agriculture, water and rural resettlement, said they had invited GMAZ to appear before the committee since last year, and four times they had declined.

"The lawyers wrote about four letters and the most recent one said they don't want me to chair the committee, and they prefer appearing before the public accounts committee," Wadyajena said.

"We need information from them, they got US$27 million from the government and we want to know what they used it for. They got US$27 million from the RBZ between 2017 and 2019. We have confirmation from the RBZ that they received this amount of money. They must appear and explain to Zimbabweans what they used the money for.

"There are two issues here, one is the issue of US$27 million from RBZ and the rehabilitation of silos as well because GMB is refuting claims that GMAZ has rehabilitated silos."

Musarara was last week accused of running a maize meal cartel by the Zanu-PF Youth League, which said despite the government subsidising mealie-meal prices, millers were not sending the product to supermarkets but diverting it to the black market where it sold for higher than the fixed price, which was $50 for 10kg until a review announced by the finance ministry on Tuesday.

Musarara, who drives a U$200,000 Mercedes Benz G-Class, denies that he is corrupt and this week filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against former Zanu-PF Youth League leaders Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu.

Matutu and Tsenengamu were jettisoned from their positions by President Emmerson Mnangagwa after naming Musarara along with petroleum tycoons Kudakwashe Tagwirei and Billy Rautenbach as cartel leaders.

Tagwirei, who owns Sakunda Holdings, is a key financier of Zanu-PF along with Green Fuel boss Rautenbach, an old associate of Mnangagwa.

Coincidentally, Tagwirei has also refused to appear before the portfolio committee on public accounts chaired by Harare East MP Tendai Biti (MDC). Tagwirei, using his vast fortune, allegedly paid Zanu-PF MPs on the committee to scuttle the plan to grill him.

Biti, a former finance minister, this week said Tagwirei was now the de facto finance minister.

"The Ministry of Finance has been taken over by those cartels, Kuda Tagwirei has taken over the Ministry of Finance in Zimbabwe. Over US$2 billion has gone to Kuda Tagwirei in the form of money for fuel, in the form of Command Agriculture and where you have a budget of US$4.5 billion and one person is getting more than half of that, then surely he is now the Minister of Finance himself," Biti said.

Wadyajena said his committee had now resolved to send summons to GMAZ to compel them to appear.

Source - zimlive
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