HARARE - Top management at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has been fingered in a looting spree as the company struggles to service a $108 million maize import debt.
Documentary evidence in possession of the Daily News shows that GMB general manager Albert Mandizha and his two deputies, took personal possession of luxury company cars without remitting payment to the struggling government entity.
Mandizha is noted to have taken possession of an Isuzu, Toyota Prado and a Jeep Cherokee in 2013, acquired by the GMB.
The vehicles, worth more than $250 000, have remained unaccounted for, while only $860 was paid out for one of the cars.
“On 19th April 2013, (Mandizha) acquired an Isuzu (Reg no ABE 4201) which had been acquired by GMB for $28 076. 92 on 25th August 2010 and there is no disposal value realised by the GMB for that transaction,” read an official document seen by the Daily News.
Mandizha went on to take a Prado which had been bought by the GMB in 2005 before he joined the parastatal, which he also did not make payment for.
His deputy general manager in charge of operations, Lawrence Jasi, is on record as having received a Mazda B2500 on August 19, 2009 and a Toyota Hilux on April 19, 2013.
Not to be outdone, deputy general manager human resources, Sibongile Muchirahondo, on April 19, 2013 acquired a Mazda Eagle for a residual book value of $860 and on May 6, took possession of a company Toyota Hilux, also without making payment.
The document indicates the vehicles acquired were allegedly used by Mandizha and his subordinates for business purposes.
Claims in excess of $3 000 per month were then made against the GMB for maintenance of the vehicles.
Mandizha was not answering his phone when contacted for comment, while Jasi declined to answer questions posed by this newspaper.
He referred the Daily News to the corporate communications manager Muriel Zemura.
The company spokesperson, claimed the vehicles had been sold to the three, in line with their respective contracts, a position he claimed was approved by the GMB board and tax collector Zimra.
“Their contracts provide for the acquisition of vehicles at the end of five-year contracts and the three have completed their contracts and are on their second terms. The contracts provide for the acquisition of vehicles at ex-book value plus depreciation,” Zemura said.
She however, did not cite how many vehicles they were entitled to, how much the cars were sold for and if the three top management officials paid for them.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made, who controls the parastatal, professed ignorance over the matter.
“I am only finding out about this from you. You can call me tomorrow or the day after to find out after I have made investigations into the matter,” Made said.
A 2012 audit of the ailing parastatal’s books by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, revealed that GMB failed to account for more than $1 million and about 20 000 of its assets.
Last year, GMB was failing to pay some 3 600 workers amid reports that top management had purchased top-of-the-range Toyota D4D off-road vehicles.
The government entity currently owes local farmers more than $6 million for last season’s grain supplies.