Tagwirei sanctions: Biti trashes Command Agriculture sabotage claims

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By Anna Chibamu

HARARE East MP Tendai Biti has rubbished claims by Zanu PF apologists he was working with the US to undermine Zimbabwe’s opaque Command Agriculture being sponsored by controversial fuel mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

Tagwirei was recently placed on the US targeted sanctions list, igniting protests from Zanu PF aligned war veterans and farmers who have singled out the MDC top politician for allegedly inviting the diplomatic action.

Biti chairs parliament’s Public Accounts committee and has not given Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings any rest while demanding he accounts for billions worth of taxpayers’ money funnelled through the businessman’s companies.

During parliamentary hearings since last year, it emerged US$3 billion was unaccounted for by the Agriculture ministry as reported by the Auditor General.

The amount was released during the 2017 and 2018 agricultural season.

Earlier this month, Tagwirei was placed on the US sanctions list for “materially assisting senior Zimbabwean government officials involved in public corruption”.

This has invited angry protests directed at Biti who however remains adamant the Command Agriculture fraud was exposed by the Auditor General (AG) as opposed to parliament.

“The vicious vitriolic attacks on Parliament and the Public Accounts Committee are uncalled for. The 2017 and 2018 Auditor General Reports exposed massive looting of Command Agriculture resources with Sakunda at the center. Sakunda not Parliament is the problem,” Biti said on twitter Monday.

According to ZBC, farmers and war veterans have slammed Biti for allegedly abusing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and working to derail the Command Agriculture Programme.

They also accused the influential opposition politician of inviting sanctions on Tagwirei and his firms.

Government’s Command Agriculture programme was ostensibly established to ensure food sufficiency in the country but it has allegedly been used as a vehicle to mask high level corruption by Zimbabwean authorities and their cronies.

Following Tagwirei’s placement under sanctions, Gwebi Farmers Association Chair, Andy Mhlanga accused Biti of “working in cahoots with Americans to sabotage agriculture reforms and reverse the land reforms”.

“This time he is reported to have misrepresented facts to his western masters and invited sanctions on Sakunda holdings so that command agriculture is destroyed, this programme has revived the production of maize, wheat, soya beans and various other crops,” Mhlanga told ZBC-TV.

Dakarai Mapuranga, an agriculture expert also called “upon the president to flash Biti from chairing such an important portfolio as Public accounts”.