Zimbabwe: Ministry of Finance Officials in No-Show At Parliamentary Meeting

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
28 October 2019

Officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development today staged yet another no-show at the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting were they were due to give oral evidence to the committee on the financing strategy of the Command Agriculture program, 263Chat Business can reveal.

The officials are said to have opted to attend a workshop in Darwendale instead.

The PAC had summoned the officials from the Ministry alongside those from a local company, Fertilizer Seed Grain (FSG), who are recipients of millions of dollars from the government for the production and supply of inputs under the Presidential Input Scheme to present evidence this morning at Parliament yet they both defaulted.

"We were supposed to get oral evidence from Ministry of Finance officials. We had summoned in particular, director of budgets, Mr Churu and another director of Capital Expenditure, Mr Fidelis Ngorora and the Accountant General,' PAC chair, Tendai Biti said.

This is the third time the officials have defaulted on the PAC meeting.

Biti said the officials from the Finance ministry previously gave written evidence which left the committee with more questions than answers on issues regarding the financing of Command Agriculture.

The officials' absence has therefore sparked suspicion over their lukewarm response to address the committee, more so with the contentious Command Agriculture saga still at the center of scrutiny.

"We are saddened by continuous disrespect of Parliament. So we are giving the Ministry of Finance one last chance before we direct the Clerk of Parliament to issue a warrant of arrest as he is permitted to do so in terms of the Parliamentary Privileges Act. So we are re-summoning the Ministry of Finance on their own on Friday 15 November 2019," warned Biti.

On FSG, Biti expressed concern over the company officials' avoidance of the PAC when summoned but preferred to attend other Parliamentary committees such as that of Agriculture.

Efforts by this publication to get a comment from both government and company officials were futile.

Biti also said the company together with Sakunda was critical in the work of the Committee.

Sakunda is said to have gobbled billions of state funds for shoddy work under the Command Agriculture program without having gone through proper tender procedures.

Command Agriculture has been marred with gross mismanagement of funds and remain shrouded in scandal going into yet another cropping season.

Analysts have blamed the government for seeking far the country's economic malaise (anti-sanctions mantra) yet deep rooted corruption continues to cripple development unabated.

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