Cyclone disrupts wheat transportation from Beira – GMAZ boss

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By Anna Chibamu

GRAIN Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara says the recent Cyclone Idai which battered parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe’s eastern region has disrupted the transporation of wheat from the Mozambican port city of Beira.

Under the current wheat shortages caused by the forex crunch however, Musarara said, his organisation has been able to supply up to 50 percent wheat demand by local bakers.

This is contrary to claims the millers representative group entrusted with public funds was doing little to ease recurrent shortages of the staple food in the country.

Musarara told journalists that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was pleased with issues of accountability within his organisation.

He said this moments after his appearance before parliament’s Agriculture committee, whose proceedings were adjourned to a later date.

He said wheat supplies were set to improve in the next coming few weeks once a new plan has been effected.

“We have a shortage of wheat supplies now but we will improve soon once a shift document we are working on in Maputo comes out. We are supplying between 45 and 50 percent of the bakers’ needs depending on whether Maputo was damaged or not.”

GMAZ was paid almost US$25 million by RBZ in 2018 to source wheat for the country.

Musarara said the recent devastating Cyclone Idai has led to a snarl up in the transportation of wheat from the Mozambican port city of Beira which has now become inaccessible due to the disaster.

At the moment, he said, more than 100 trucks were still stuck in Beira because of the disaster.

Referring to proceedings before the committee, the Harare businessman said his organisation was ready to furnish MPs with all the documents being demanded.

“We are more than ready to account for every nostro dollar that we have received. The externalisation list that was listed, there was no miller on it. We have a legacy debt of $80 million being owed to my members as we speak.

“In our files, we have brought in the proof of payments and the bill of entries from ZIMRA and the acquittals that we have done with the banks,” he added.

Musarara was up in arms with the Justice Mayor Wadyajena led committee for giving his organisation short notice to present evidence on the company proceedings.

“The Reserve Bank is happy with what we have done. Our files are showing that acquittals were done by the respected banks and they are open for inspection at our offices or at our lawyers’ chambers.

“The GMAZ issue has always been a matter of public record. We have done everything possible to bring in wheat for the people and even the RBZ has acknowledged the limitations in terms of allocating us funds. We are happy to have this opportunity to dispel rumours that we are hearing.

“The practice of parliament is that those giving oral evidence are given ample time to present oral evidence. We only received the letter on Wednesday and I had only one day (Monday) to put everything in place.

“Normally, we are given seven days to two weeks. We did not have enough time to come up with such tonnes of evidence, but we are more than happy to disclose as much information as is needed.”