Fertiliser giants lose out to shadowy newcomer

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By Anna Chibamu

A company that some senior government officials claimed was a funeral parlour and received US$400 million for inputs that it never delivered has taken over provision of fertilisers under the lucrative presidential inputs scheme.

The move has driven out traditional fertiliser manufacturing companies that usually supply government.

According to industry officials who appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Lands last week, Fertiliser Grain and Seed (FSG) has overtaken its traditional rivals as key supplier despite a cloud hanging over its head.

Giving oral evidence to the committee chaired by Zanu PF Gokwe Nembudziya MP, Mayor Wadyajena, State owned Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC) managing director Richard Dafana revealed that his company had not been given an opportunity to participate in the presidential inputs scheme as had become the norm.

Chairman Wadyajena queried: “Are you saying FSG has taken your business. Do not shy away. Tell us, do you agree?”

Dafana sheepishly responded: “We have not been given any orders under the presidential inputs scheme and the Ministry of Lands is responsible for that.

“We have participated before but quantities declined though we have received a contract for command agriculture. We cannot however, prove that FSG has taken our business.”

According to Dafana, ZFC is partly owned by the government and was once on the sanctions’ list only to be removed a year and a half ago.

This he said affected the company’s output as it could not import some chemicals.

Windmill chief executive officer George Rundogo told the committee that over 80% of its business is linked to government programmes.

FSG caused a stir in Parliament a few months ago after former Accountant General Daniel Muchemwa told the Public Accounts that it was a funeral parlour, allegations which were refuted by its managing director Steve Moorland recently.

Morland denied that his company was a subsidiary of a funeral company with the same name.

“My company is a Zimbabwe listed company and not South African. I have no relations with the funeral parlour in question. We are FSG and we are into fertilizer only,” said Morland.

“We were greatly affected by the news that we were a funeral parlour. It now looks like a shoddy deal which is not the case.”