Minister forces spoilt maize on GMB

Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made could have prejudiced the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) of thousands of dollars through a delivery of condemned maize.

Joseph Made
Joseph Made

Made, under whose ministry GMB falls, reportedly made the delivery in 2012 even though, according to sources, it was clear that the maize had been destroyed by weevils.

Information leaked to The Zimbabwean by highly placed sources indicates that the minister forced the Macheke Grain Marketing Board Depot in Manicaland, where his Tara Farm is based, to buy 90 tonnes of the bad produce from him.

Made denied ever making any deliveries to GMB, but information at hand proves that he did. The deliveries were made on July 9, 11 and 16, 2012 by a 30 tonne truck registration number AAB 0213, with trailer registration number AAB 6213 in tow.

According to the sources, receiving clerks at the depot advised management about the grain, which was in a condition that would not be accepted at the silos under normal conditions.

“In compliance with orders from above, management instructed the clerks to accept the grain despite its bad state, to classify it as BD grade and to pay the minister for the delivery,” revealed the sources.

Members of communities near Made’s farm, told this newspaper that the minister had not grown the maize himself – but had bought it from other farmers. They said he normally did not grow much maize on his farm and had decided to buy from others in order to give government the impression that he was productive.

When reached for comment, Made said: “I have never delivered maize to the GMB.”

Some cabinet ministers and senior government officials have in the past been accused of supplying grain to GMB at high prices and then buying it back at lower prices for resale to the utility again, in addition to other markets.

During the GMB monopoly, before liberalisation of grain procurement and sale, some government officials were accused of smuggling grain into Mozambique and other neighbouring countries. The utility was targeted by government ministers, Zanu (PF) officials and those with connections for looting.

Senior public officials would get their payments from the cash-strapped board while ordinary farmers went for years without payments.

A few years ago, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was fingered in the looting of farming equipment worth billions of dollars from Mashonaland West Grain Marketing Board Depots.

President Robert Mugabe has called on the law to take its course against corrupt government officials, but nothing has happened on the ground. Several government ministers have been fingered in graft cases but no action has been taken against them.

These include Obert Mpofu (former mines and current transport minister), Chombo, Saviour Kasukuwere (now with water and environment ministry but formerly in charge of indigenisation and empowerment).

Last year, attempts by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to probe them backfired when commissioners and members of the secretariat were prosecuted instead.

There are complaints that ZACC is undermined by political interference and hamstrung by poor funding. It is currently in limbo after the expiry of the term of office of the original commissioners, who have not been replaced.

Recently, Mugabe revealed that a cabinet minister and a Member of Parliament had forced prospective investors to pay them bribes in order for them to facilitate business deals with high ranking officials.

These seem to be the Minister of State in his office and senior Zanu (PF) functionary, Didymus Mutasa, and his MP cousin and Mashonaland West Provincial Chairman for the party, Temba Mliswa.

Mliswa has admitted that he helped long time Zanu (PF) financier and mega-buck mogul Billy Rautenbach to connect with Mutasa in numerous business venture set ups. But no action has been taken against the two, even though Rautenbach publicly complained that Mliswa had extorted money from him.

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