Top Ministry Of Lands Officials 'Loot' Chinese Donation
Officials in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement looted agricultural machinery and equipment acquired through a Chinese government grant, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report tabled in Parliament has revealed.
The PAC report that covers the period between 2017 and 2018 revealed that the top officials allocated the farm equipment and machinery to themselves.
It also disclosed allegations of massive corruption, theft, leakages, and misappropriations within the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Resettlement.
The committee’s report is based on an inquiry that was informed by findings in the 2018 Auditor General`s audit report. The report read:
The Ministry received 36 tractors, 30 motor vehicles, and 200 motorbikes through a grant from the Republic of China.
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The assets were not recorded in the Ministry’s Master Asset Register and the Grant Agreement was not availed for audit inspection.
According to the report, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, and Rural Resettlement took custody of the goods and “distributed the equipment.” It reads:
He (director of mechanisation) indicated that after delivery, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, and Rural Resettlement had distributed the equipment,” reads the report.
The director of mechanisation indicated that he thought the list of beneficiaries had been shared with the auditors.
He stated that some of the equipment had been distributed to institutions and some to individuals.
The director submitted that the distribution of the equipment had been done at the ministerial level and the ministry was working backwards to get the information.
From the distribution list submitted, out of the 36 Foton tractors, 18 were distributed to individuals, the majority of which consisted of public officials in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement and Irrigation Development.
Of the 36-disc ploughs, 18 were again distributed to individuals with 11 of the beneficiaries of the tractors being ministry officials.
Furthermore, equipment valued at $853 750 acquired from William Bain was not recorded in the ministry`s Master Asset register.
The ministry, according to the report, purchased 10 motor vehicles in 2017 from Solution Motors and paid the company in advance but only received six vehicles and the remaining four worth US$$207 540 were never delivered and followed up on.
PAC Chairperson Brian Dube (MDC Alliance), who is the legislator for Gweru urban, said the inquiry report pointed to a contravention of public finance management regulations and “looting” of public resources.
Contacted for a comment, ZACC spokesperson John Makamure told Business Times they were yet to receive the report. Said Makamure:
We will certainly launch investigations once we receive them. The PAC should write formally to the ZACC chairperson.