The Tendai Biti-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts heard that the Ministry of Finance paid US$400 million to a funeral assurance company for the supply of Command Agriculture fertilizer.
The revelations came out on Monday when Paymaster General, Daniel Muchemwa and chief principal director, Zvinechimwe Churu appeared before the Committee.
It was also revealed that the Ministry officials had no information as to who owns the company or where it is located.
The visibly angry MDC lawmaker took the officials to task. He said:
Who are directors of this company known as FSG? Who is FSG? (Paymaster General, Daniel) Muchemwa, (Ministry chief principal director, Zvinechimwe) Churu, and Ngurura all you cannot tell this committee that you do not know who FSG is? So what are you doing there (Finance Ministry)? Your Ministry is rotten then.
You know you are under oath. You do not know your clients? How is it possible that you pay US$400 million to someone you do not know?
I put it to you that you are trying to mislead us. If you pay something to someone you do not know it is illegal according to the laws of this country.
Everyone here knows it is a crime. Paying clients without due diligence. How does that happen? The whole ministry is rotten.
However, Churu was nonplussed by Biti’s remarks. He said:
I refuse to accept that we are rotten. The Ministry is not rotten. You are free to write what you want. We are not rotten. Our rating in the international forum is not what you are saying. Our fiscal policy is well managed. We are not going to accept you calling us rotten. I am not emotional but I am professional.
Our focus is on financing. Anything to do with procurement has nothing to do with us. If you go to Boka there is that company known as FSG. I bought fertilizer from that company. Ask any one of the fertilizer unions. They will tell you that I am not lying.
Commenting on the Command Agriculture saga, prominent journalist and political commentator, Hopewell Chin’ono said:
FSG was given US$400M by the Government of Zimbabwe to supply fertiliser and yet the Government officials say they don’t know who that company is. The same government blames sanctions, NO! It is CORRUPTION and incompetence! Yet they beg the “award-winning” Bishow Parajuli (UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe) for FOOD!
You have some Regime Associates hiding behind Sanctions to explain FAILURE. Yet in 2018, the Ministry Agriculture was allocated US$294M, but the Ministry of Finance gave it an extra US$3.2billion which it can’t account for. This is how Command Agriculture is used to LOOT State.
… Today we were told that FSG was given US$400M. Last year one of the directors said that they had been given a $69M contract without going to tender. He said he was called to John Mangudya’s office and the deal was on! Sanctions they say, Corruption it is!