The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) submitted a fourth letter to Parliament in a bid to evade being grilled by legislators under the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement over US$27 million they received from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
By Anyway Yotamu
GMAZ was set to appear for hearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement this Tuesday but did not turn up.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee members are demanding answers as to how the US$27 million received by GMAZ between 2017 and 2019 was used. The money was availed by the government towards the purchase of wheat.
Responding to questions from journalists following a no show by GMAZ, Gokwe Nembudziya legislator, Justice Mayor Wadyajena who chaired the meeting said the committee resolved to summon the organisation despite having sent several letters through their lawyers.
“They wrote to Parliament through Winterton Lawyers and they think the committee is being unfair on them. They have engaged their lawyers to fight us. The committee resolved that they need to appear so we are going to send summons,” said Wadyajena
Wadyajena added that the committee is pursuing GMAZ to clarify what they used the US$27 million they got from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for.
“We need information from them. They got US$27 million from government and we want to know what they used it for. They got US$27 million from RBZ between 2017 and 2019. We have confirmation from 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,” he said.
According to a letter dated 18th of March 2019 signed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr John Mangudya, the grain millers received the US$27 million.
“Please find attached the information requested on foreign exchange allocations to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe and other suppliers of fertiliser, seed and agro-chemicals,” reads parts of the letter.
GMAZ through their lawyers Wintertons indicated that the committee must seek government approval for them to furnish Parliament with terms of the agreement.
“The transaction in question was captured in an agreement that was entered into between our client and Government of Zimbabwe, represented by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development executed on the 7th of June 2017. There is a confidentiality clause in the agreement which bars our client from disclosing the terms thereof without the consent of the government of Zimbabwe. The committee should, therefore, obtain government approval for our client to furnish it with a copy of the agreement,” reads part of the letter.
Asked by journalists on exactly whom they are targeting in this whole saga, Wadyajena said they want any representative of the organisation to clarify on the questions that members of the committee have and its nothing personal.
“These are not personal issues hence we don’t need a specific person but representative of GMAZ. The lawyers wrote about four letters and the recent one saying they don’t want me to chair the committee and they prefer appearing before the public accounts committee,” he said.