BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
MPs have called for a forensic audit of the Command Agriculture Programme after the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) released a report that exposes gross irregularities in its implementation, which resulted in US$1 billion worth of Treasury Bills being issued irregularly by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The Pac report questioned former Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s role in ordering the release of over US$737,9 million worth of TBs after he had left the Treasury. It also raised suspicion that the money could have been used to fund the 2018 elections after the Lands and Agriculture ministry told Pac while giving oral evidence that it was never involved in the programme.
MPs debated the Pac report on Tuesday and demanded that a forensic audit be carried out as the TBs were issued in violation of section 54(3) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) after Chinamasa directed that the central bank must release them.
One of the observations made by the Pac committee were that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) violated the law in issuing TBs.
“A forensic audit should be conducted on Treasury Bills issued by the RBZ during 2017/18 for the Special Maize programme/Command Agriculture, within 90 days,” MPs said.
“The RBZ should abide by the Constitution, the PFMA, RBZ Act as well as the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act, with immediate effect.”
Zanu PF MPs, however, tried to quash the Pac report saying the issues of TBs and other payments mentioned in the report were falsehoods.
Gutu South MP Pupurai Togarepi, who is also the Zanu PF party chief whip in the National Assembly, said: “That person who brought a false report must be charged; secondly, all those things that are being peddled about TBs and other payments are just falsehoods. I realise that those falsehoods were targeting black people and not the whites who also received these TBs.
“The black farmers are doing very well and the silos are full of grain but no one acknowledges that, but just look for the negatives so as to tarnish the image of the blacks. They rush to talk about the falsehoods of Treasury Bills but never stop to praise command agriculture. Why only focus on the negative issues about this country? All those who lied about this should be brought to book and should be punished by this august House.”