he Grain Marketing Board (GMB) management was grilled by Parliament yesterday for failing to follow correct procedures when disposing of property and under-grade grain.
The parastatal’s management appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, which is chaired by Cde Justice Wadyajena.
The committee wanted to get more information on the disposal of GMB assets and the recruitment procedure that was followed in engaging the current GMB general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha.
GMB acting general manager Mr Lawrence Jasi told the committee that the assets were disposed of through an internal auction as the company wanted to pay workers whom it owed money.
He said the assets were not sold to management, but were sold to workers to offset the money they were owed.
The committee was concerned that the assets were not disposed of in accordance with the Companies Act.
The committee was also concerned with the way the parastatal disposed of 60 000 tonnes of under-grade maize, which was imported from Mexico in 2016. Mr Jasi said the maize was disposed of because it had overstayed at Beira depot to the extent that the quality had deteriorated and it was no longer suitable for human consumption.
“When disposing under-grade maize, we identify the maize across the depots and normally the depot makes a recommendation to sell the under-grade maize. This is followed by an audit whether that maize is indeed poor quality, and this involves our quality assurance department to check on that risk.
“We then consider recommendations, but in this case, we obviously had identified the maize and we knew which stockfeeders would buy it. We do not sell to individuals, we sell to companies.”
Cde Wadyajena complained that the parastatal could have used wrong procedure in selling the maize.
“What was the procedure used to sell the maize? Who authorised the sale? Who got the maize and at what price?” he asked.
Mr Jasi said the maize, which is still being sold, costs $150 per tonne and is sold to identified stockfeeders.
The committee also demanded to know how the GMB identified the stockfeeders who required the maize and why it did not advertise the sale of the under-grade maize.
They also complained that the parastatal could be selling the maize to their friends who could even be reselling to GMB. The committee was not convinced on the selection of the stockfeeders and demanded the list of stockfeeders buying the under-grade maize. They also demanded to see the company policy on property disposal.
“We want to see in black and white where it is written that you are mandated to approach known stockfeeders. Who are they? You should give us the list of the known stockfeeders and tell us how you got to know them. Who approved the list of the stockfeeders,” Cde Wadyajena said?
Mr Jasi replied: “In our disposal policy, it is provided for, but for this case, we relied on identification. Our enterprise risk department go on the ground and verify whether that person indeed is doing stockfeeds. According to the policy, there is identification and advertisement.
“There is the issue of possible recycling of maize back into the system, but we are also alive to that possibility.
“This is why we vet them. The maize in question is identifiable because of its colour,” he said.