By Nigel Pfunde
The impasse between Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) and Parliament has escalated with accusations and counter-accusations of corruption flying from both parties.
On Tuesday, GMAZ national chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara failed to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement where the agenda was supposedly an inquiry into the funding of Agricultural activities, with order of day meant to be submission of documentation relating to financing silo repairs countrywide.
In a letter dated January 14 2020, seen by the Zim Morning Post, acting clerk of Parliament Helen Dingani wrote to Musarara alerting him of the February 11 meeting that Musarara absconded.
“The purpose of the meeting is for you to provide proof of financing silo repairs countrywide. Please submit all necessary documentation to support your evidence by February 7 2020,” read part of the letter.
In response to the snub, the committee’s chairperson Mayor Wadyajena accused GMAZ of abusing US$27 million that he claims the apex milling industry body received from the government (through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) for wheat importation.
Musarara, in an interview, hit back at Wadyajena saying: “We responded in writing to the demands of their letter.”
“What is shocking is that we are seeing screaming headlines of the $27 million from the RBZ for wheat yet the agenda of the day was on financing of silos,” Musarara said.
“Was the agenda changed overnight and to what end,” he said.
Other GMAZ officials say the way Wadyajena is handling the parliamentary oversight role is wrong.
“We feel there is an element of malice and abuse of office for personal gains.
“We requested that he recused himself but nothing has happened. So the best we can do is to respond to him via our lawyers.”
GMAZ also feel that Wadyajena is overplaying his role because the issue of funds and the group’s financials can only be quizzed by the Public Accounts portfolio instead of his Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement portfolio.
Wadyajena responded to the questions sent to him saying he is only performing his role as the chairperson of his portfolio.
“GMAZ is accountable to this committee and we are simply doing our job. They must simply appear before the Committee and raise their grievances there,” said Wadyajena.
Musarara told Zim Morning Post that his body provided the Wadyajena-led committee with all necessary documentation that Parliament requested.
“At one time he asked us for the list of the transport companies we engaged and donations we made.
“We have no obligation to give the list of donations because we are a private entity not a State enterprise,” Musarara argued.
“Contrary to the committee’s claims, we are the ones who in fact gave government funds for silo rehabilitation.
“We submitted all necessary documentation and we have proof to substantiate,” said Musarara adding: “We have no mandate to disclose to him how we financed the silos repairs. He is a legislator and has access to the ministry of finance where all that information can be obtained from.” Zim Morning Post