9 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Biti Raided $40mln Universal Services Fund-Mandiwanzira

Photo: allafrica.com
From left ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira and former finance minister Tendai Biti (file photo).

ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira has blamed former Finance Minister Tendai Biti for allegedly stifling ICT growth in the country through unilaterally diverting the Universal Services Fund (USF) to other areas which had nothing to do with their primary purpose.

The Zanu PF legislator was speaking while officially opening the Nyanga Information Centre, funded through USF under telecoms regulator, Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ).

"We are transparent on the use of Universal Services Fund," Mandiwanzira said.

USF is a pool of financial contributions made by all telecoms operators in Zimbabwe which is collected and managed by POTRAZ.

Operators contribute a percentage of their gross revenues towards the USF with the understanding that it will be used to facilitate investments in areas such as remote parts of Zimbabwe where operators might neglect their efforts because of weak business cases.

Said Mandiwanzira, "Most of you remember during inclusive government, then Finance Minister Tendai Biti raided USF and over $40 million was grabbed by Treasury.

"Biti deployed the money in other areas that had nothing to do with prescribed responsibility of the fund."

Biti, who is opposition MDC Alliance co-principal, was Treasury boss between 2009 and 2013.

Mandiwanzira said since being appointed into his portfolio post 2013, he has made sure the funds were returned back to their proper use.

"Since we were appointed to superintend over the ministry, one of the things we had made sure is that funds are accounted for; every cent used is accounted for. We also made sure that there is transparency in the use of USF and we can account for every cent," said Mandiwanzira.

The former journalist turned Zanu PF politician said the opening of 250 information centres across the country was testimony his ministry was deploying the funds to their rightful use.

"I know where there is a lot of money because of our current situation in our country. A lot of people have their eyes on it.

"I think the fact that there is a lot eyes on USF is a good thing and no one can find anything wrong in terms of how we are deploying the resources and this is a testimony on this Nyanga Centre and other 250 opened across the country," Mandiwanzira said.

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