HARARE – Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement secretary Ringson Chitsiko on Tuesday disowned the appointment of two Grain Marketing Board members as caretaker managers of the state entity for 18 months when it did not have a substantive general manager.
Chitsiko told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement that the appointments were made by former Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made without his knowledge or input as the accounting officer.
The revelations came to light after one of the board members, Basilio Sandamu, who is the vice chairperson, approached the GMB demanding payment for his services.
Sandamu, who has been a GMB board member for nine years, is allegedly demanding more than $75 000.
GMB board member Callisto Machengete told the Committee that he had been asked to process payments for Sandamu and board chairman Charles Chikaura for the 18 months they worked at the company.
“Yes it is true I was requested to talk to the Minister since I was coming from Government to see whether the Minister could do something in terms of some form of allowance or payment to the vice chair and the chairman for the time that they assisted at GMB, those 18 months,” he said.
“The total comes to about $70 000 roughly,” he said.
But Sandamu emphatically denied demanding payment saying Made was the one who suggested they be paid for the 18 month deployment at GMB.
He said his appointment together with Chikaura was meant to keep the grain storage company afloat.
“I was assigned by the Minister, there is nothing more I can say. I do not know whether it was wrong or right. The proposal for GMB to pay us for the services were written at the request of the then Minister Made,” he said.
“He called us to his office and said gentlemen you have done a good job, I will look at some ways of assisting you to get paid,” he said.
It also came out in the meeting that Sandamu and Made are related as in-laws.
The Committee then resolved to summon Dr Made to appear before it to answer to the alleged malpractices. – New Ziana