Dairy project debt…

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has cut electricity supplies at the Umzingwane Dairy Association, amid revelations that high-ranking Zanu (PF) officials owe the utility thousands.

A leaked Zesa document shows that President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, are among its biggest debtors, with an unpaid bill of $345,000 on their various farm accounts.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge and Minister of State in the President’s Office Didymus Mutasa are on the list of top government officials who have outstanding debts.

Members of the dairy association revealed to The Zimbabwean that electricity supplies were cut last week because of a $34,400 debt, in a move likely to worsen UDA’s viability.

“The association has not been paying electricity charges to ZESA. The dairy farmers are struggling because milk volumes have dropped drastically over the years due to recurrent drought and high costs associated with the rearing of dairy cows,” said Elton Moyo, a member of the association.

UDA was formed by a group of communal farmers from Mawabeni, Esigodini, Nswazi and Mbalabala areas in 2001. At its inception, the association’s milk processing plant, which is situated at Mawabeni Business Centre, used to process over 600l of milk per day. The milk was collected from local communal dairy farmers.

Moyo said the 53-member association had been facing numerous challenges over the past years.

“Most farmers cannot afford to replace their cows. The price of stock feed is also high. We do not have enough pasture because of the drought,” he said.

Some of the commercial farmers who used to supply the farmers with high yield breeding cows were allegedly chased away from their properties. Farmers from different parts of the country have, over the years, urged Zesa to prioritise them in its load shedding schedules so as to minimize disruptions to farming activities.

Apology

In our print edition of 7 June 2012 and in the online edition of the same date, we ran a story with the headline, ‘‘’Dairy Project Debt—Zanu (PF) Big Wigs to Blame’’, in which we incorrectly stated that Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara, was failing to service his Zesa bill.

We also accompanied the story with DPM Mutambara’s picture. Our report was erroneously based on a leaked Zesa document that listed him as one of the top government officials who were prejudicing the operations of the power utility by failing to pay.

It has however come to our attention that DPM Mutambara, contrary to our claim, does not owe Zesa anything as he pays his bills in advance. The error is sincerely regretted.

We have also since learnt that DPM Mutambara does not own a farm and his Zesa bill is limited to his domestic use account.

Our story was in no way a willful act to tarnish DPM Mutambara’s image. -Editor

Post published in: Agriculture

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *