The Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement ministry has failed to account for a US$15 million Chinese grant, motor vehicles and farming machinery, according to a new report by parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that was tabled on Tuesday, 7 September 2021.
The PAC probe covered the ministry’s operations during 2018 and 2019.
The committee, which is led by Gweru Urban lawmaker, Brian Dube, recommended that the anomalies must be handed over to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the police for investigations.
There were no records on how the ministry allocated 36 tractors, 30 cars and 200 motor cycles that were received from China under a grant whose details the committee, however, did not give. The assets were part of the US$15 million grant.
“The assets were not recorded in the Ministry’s master asset register and the grant agreement was not availed for audit inspection,” noted the PAC.
The committee recommended that “ZACC must investigate, within 90 days of tabling of this report”, the disposal of inputs and assets to staff and personnel at the ministry.
Officials at the Agriculture ministry distributed amongst themselves, farming machinery worth US$853 750 which was destined for irrigation sites across the country.
The machinery included 36 corn planters, 25 fodder grinders, 36-disc harrows and an equal number of farm sprayers, mould board ploughs and disc ploughs, respectively.
“The officials must be referred to ZACC for investigation within 60 days of tabling of this report. The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement must recover the value of the equipment (US$ 853 750) from the officials within 90 days, if necessary,” reads the PAC report.
The ministry contracted a little-known company, Solutions Motors, to supply 10 all-terrain vehicles at a total cost of US$518,850, but only six were delivered despite the supplier being paid in full.
The undelivered vehicles are worth US$207,540, according to the report.
The payment for the cars was done on 19 December 2017, soon after the military-assisted power takeover that replaced the now late Robert Mugabe with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The PAC also reported that the six vehicles that Solutions Motors supplied did not meet technical specifications stated in the contract as they did not have canopies and bull bars.
“Solution Motors should be referred to ZACC for investigation and prosecution for non- delivery of vehicles worth US$$207 540, within 90 days of tabling of this Report,” noted the PAC report.
In another deal with Solution Motors, two SANY SY 365C excavators and one water bowser were not delivered despite having been paid for in full.
This way, the ministry flouted the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act (Chapter 22:23), by making full payments before delivery.