GRAIN Millers Association of Zimbabwe (Gmaz) chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara yesterday snubbed the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture Water and Rural Resettlement when it visited his milling company in Harare’s Workington Industrial Area.
The committee chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena had sought to tour Musarara’s milling company, Alpha Grain, which is among the firms that received subsidised maize from government to ensure citizens access affordable maize meal.
However, upon arrival, the committee was shocked to learn that the premises in fact belonged to Drotsky and not Alpha Grain.
Interestingly, it emerged on Monday in Parliament that the US$27 million advanced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the Gmaz to secure wheat was in fact used by Drotsky; a company Musarara admitted was his.
With Musarara conspicuous by his absence, the committee decided to abandon its mission to carry out further investigations to establish where Alpha Grain was operating from.
“We came here to see Alpha Grain but we have been told that the company that operates here is Drotsky. We have a schedule to call Drotsky separately so for now, we have to go back and try to seek clarification regarding the companies,” Wadyajena told journalists.
Meanwhile, the committee also toured Davison Norupiri’s Agri-Milling which also revealed that it had never received any grain facilitated by Gmaz.
“There was never a time when Gmaz facilitated our acquisition of grain. We always got it through the normal GMB channels. We actually have capacity to mill 218 tonnes per day and we are not operating at full capacity because we have no grain.
“We get an allocation of 500 tonnes which means two days of production so it means we only milled
1 500 tonnes since subsidies were introduced,” Norupiri said.
The government recently introduced the subsidy on roller meal to cushion vulnerable groups against rising prices. The price of a 10kg bag was initially set at $50 but was increased to $70 recently as the first step to cut out the black market.
This comes after the Wadyajena-chaired committee gathered last week that some companies were smuggling the subsidised maize to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The director of Mr Brands Milling Company that is a member of both Gmaz and Small Scale Millers Association of Zimbabwe (SMAZ), Wayne Morse, told Parliament that the smuggling was being aided by the fact that some millers are given allocations of grain that are way above their milling capacity.
“If a company’s milling capacity is, say 200 tonnes a week, how do you explain it when it is allocated 600 tonnes? What happens is that the other 400 tonnes is what is then sold to other countries at a profit because the grain is cheap this side.
“Even when the process began to be supervised by the ministry of Finance, you will notice the list of beneficiaries has not changed from the one that the GMB used,” Morse said.
He explained that the trucks that transport copper to South Africa are recorded at Beitbridge Border Post as loaded with imported maize on their way back yet they will be empty.
“They are then loaded with maize here and proceed to DRC. We know that it is happening and also that some of the grain is bought back by the bigger millers such as National Foods,” Morse said.
On Tuesday, Musarara failed to account for US$27 million advanced to Gmaz by the RBZ to import wheat and refurbish GMB silos.
He could not furnish legislators with proof that Gmaz had imported the wheat that was meant for 14 wheat millers out of a combined 105.