Missing fertilizer – govt officials implicated

HARARE - Mystery and the usual corruption surround the story of 800 000 tonnes of fertilizer that were imported by the Zanu (PF) regime from China, and investigations by The Zimbabwean show that the looting by ministers and other top officials dominated the handling of the consignment.

Some senior government officials even had the audacity to loot the fertilizer and smuggle it outside the country.

Details obtained from the ministry of agriculture showed that a consignment of 800 000 tonnes of fertilizer was delivered from China in October, bartered for tobacco. This could have covered the country for more than two seasons if properly managed.

“It was received by the ministry and supposed to be handed over to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for handling and distribution. However the looting started even before the GMB had taken over the handling of the fertilizer,” said an inside source.

“A big portion was given to the army for its maguta programmes, while other institutions such as GMB branches, traditional leaders and agricultural extension services were also allocated huge quantities. The rest mysteriously disappeared through various channels of looting by the top chefs in the Zanu (PF) regime,” said the source.

One government minister (name supplied) was discovered to have looted 15 tonnes of fertilizer and obtained part of it by using a buying number at the GMB of another junior Zanu (PF) official without her consent. She only learnt about it when trying to buy her own stock and was told that she had exhausted her allocation prompting her to appeal through the government structures all the way up to Mugabe who is said to have asked her to write a report.  Efforts to obtain comment from the implicated minister failed. Minister of agriculture, Rugare Gumbo was also not available for comment. – Itai Dzamara

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