Minister named in missing presidential rice
By Richard Muponde
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, Ezra Chadzamira’s name has been dragged into the alleged diversion of 15 metric tonnes of donated rice meant to benefit villagers in Chivi South but ended up in Harare and other parts of the country.
The rice was allocated through Chivi South Member of Parliament, Killer Zivhu on the strength of a letter from the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Simon Masanga to Harare depot manager of the Grain Marketing Board Harare.
A couple, Veronica Mhlanga and her husband Donny Huruva, a relative to Chivi Rural District Council chairperson, Godfrey Huruva Mukungunugwa has been arrested over the matter and is assisting police with investigations.
The case was reported under Immediate Report (IR) 010074 and a Criminal Record (CR) is still to be opened.
Zivhu confirmed the incident.
“What happened is that MPs were given an allocation by the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) of 15 metric tonnes of rice each for their constituencies.
“When I went to collect it, I found that it had been collected by a woman by the name Veronica Mhlanga whom I don’t know. I then sent messages to (Zanu PF) councillors and MPs WhatsApp groups trying to trace the rice but didn’t get a positive response,” said Zivhu.
He said he had to trace Mhlanga through her Facebook page and she allegedly confessed to having collected the rice after being given the green light by Mukungunugwa.
“They collected the letter on December 20 and took the allocation on December 24, but it hasn’t arrived in the constituency,” Zivhu said.
“After I made noise everywhere, they then delivered 100 bags on Monday at a councillor’s shop and said the remainder will be delivered in seven days. They said they had been sent by Minister Chadzamira to collect the rice. I have transport to ferry the rice for free and surprisingly the rice was distributed in Harare to people who don’t even come from Chivi South.
As I speak the couple has been arrested and is in police custody.”
Chadzamira refused to comment saying he was in a meeting.
However national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the allocations for Chivi South and Gutu North were collected on Chadzamira’s instruction.
He added that the issue was being held at provincial level.
“From our investigations we have established that the rice in question was distributed in Chivi South constituency by the Department of Social Welfare on the directive of the relevant minister. We have also established that another consignment is on its way there. There’s no theft which took place,” Nyathi said.
Zivhu and Chadzamira have not been in good books after the provincial minister who is also Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chair recommended the summary expulsion of the legislator from the ruling party.
He accused Zivhu of treacherous behaviour after he called on Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to hold talks to resolve the country’s economic crisis.
Zivhu’s fate now lies with the Zanu-PF national disciplinary committee chaired by Oppah Muchinguri after he appealed against the decision by Chadzamira’s executive. NewsDay