By Mashonaland East Correspondent
THE government has again roped in controversial oil company, Sakunda Holdings, in the distribution of agricultural inputs to farmers under the Command Agriculture scheme after it poured in $2.8 billion for the programme.
The government is expecting to produce an estimated 1,5 million hectares of maize in the 2019/2020 summer agriculture following a disastrous season this year resulting in over 5.5 million citizens left in need of food aid.
Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri announced the re-engagement of Sakunda, a company owned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally and advisor, Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
Last month the company was accused of money laundering, which was fueling the parallel foreign currency trade in the country, forcing the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to move in and swoop on the company’s bank accounts following the allegations.
Other companies that were accused of money laundering were; Access Finance, Croco Motors and Spartan Securities. Spartan Securities is owned by Mnangagwa’s nephew, Tarisai Mnangagwa. These companies’ bank accounts were also closed.
However, despite the current corruption allegations being leveled against Sakunda, Shiri announced last Friday that the government would continue working with it including other commercial banks to distribute agriculture inputs to farmers under Command Agriculture scheme.
“We have four banks that have come on line to support Command Agriculture; Stanbic, Agribank, CBZ and Women’s Bank,” Shiri said adding Sakunda would be involved in distributing the farming inputs to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and the contracted farmers.
The government has since admitted that the Command Agriculture programme, Mnangagwa’s brainchild when he was still Vice President, was not transparent. The programme has also been roundly condemned for allowing people connected to the government to loot State resources under the scheme.
Recently, the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee led by Harare East MP, Tendai Biti, heard that some US$4 billion had disappeared without trace under the programme with Tagwirei at the centre of the scam.
“Transparency has been the beef in the Command Agriculture and fair enough it was opaque,” Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said early this month.