The Herald (Harare)

19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: GMB Owes Transport Operators U.S$5 Million

The Grain Marketing Board is failing to deliver maize to drought stricken areas after transport operators withdrew their services over unpaid dues amounting to more than US$5 million. GMB general manager Mr Albert Mandizha said Government was failing to pay transport operators on time.

He said the country's grain reserve had enough maize to feed the nation.

"We owe transport operators more than US$5 million and we are failing to meet our weekly target of delivering 30 000 tonnes of maize to areas in need of food.

The money to pay transporters should come from Government and that is an agreed position," he said.

Mr Mandizha said Government claimed that it was facing challenges and was not in a position to pay the money.

He said it was a sad situation considering that people were starving simply because Government did not have money to pay transport operators.

"As we speak we have enough maize in the granary but people are going to Christmas without maize," he said.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman Cde Joseph Chinotimba had since written to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over the failure by Treasury to release money to pay transport operators.

Cde Chinotimba said GMB was not adequately funded.

"I am writing this letter to express my disgruntlement and dismay over the failure by the Ministry of Finance and other responsible authorities yourself included for failing to adequately fund the Grain Marketing Board. The non availability of funding for the GMB has precipitated hunger in most drought stricken areas as grain/food relief is not being transported to the people," he said.

Cde Chinotimba said a person like PM Tsvangirai who hailed from Buhera, which experienced perennial droughts should be sensitive to the need of availing such funding.

"It is sad that despite the availability of maize in the GMB silos, it is failing to transport the grain to affected areas countrywide. Most if not all transporters have withdrawn their services citing failure by GMB to pay for the rendered service," he said.

Cde Chinotimba implored PM Tsvangirai to urge Finance Minister Tendai Biti who comes from his MDC-T party to urgently release the money.

"The facts are simple, Mr Prime Minister. Minister Biti should urgently prioritise the GMB for starvation and hunger to be averted," he said.

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