TOP Zanu PF officials including the two vice-presidents, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, have benefited from funds from the Irrigation Rehabilitation Programme designed to resuscitate irriga
tion on A2 farms last year, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Irrigation equipment worth millions of dollars was either looted or vandalised during the farm grab which started in 2000. Government last year announced a $1,2 billion package to rehabilitate the equipment and Zanu PF senior politicians have topped the list of beneficiaries.
Documents to hand show that of the $1,2 billion availed, ruling party cronies received over $873 million. There are fears that some of the public funds may not be recovered as has been the case with other such facilities where officials have refused to pay back loans.
The funds were made available at the same time as the tillage and restocking programme funds.
Msika received $8,4 million while Muzenda got $4,3 million under the programme, according to Arda (Agricultural and Rural Development Authority) documents.
This is not the first time Zanu PF chefs have jumped on the gravy train. In 1997 a High Court case revealed that senior officials diverted funds meant to build houses for middle-income civil servants. In 1998 party officials were also implicated in the looting of the War Victims Compensation Fund.
The Zanu PF “who’s who” list has also featured in the tally of those accused of unfairly benefiting from the District Development Fund borehole project which saw drilling equipment diverted to private properties.
Some of the beneficiaries of the latest scheme include Youth Development minister Elliot Manyika who received $10 million, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa who received $6,2 million, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa $910 000, and Zanu PF MPs Webster Shamu and Didymus Mutasa who received $6 million and $7 million respectively.
War veterans’ leaders who also benefited include Chris Pasipamire ($5 million) and controversial municipal official Joseph Chinotimba ($6,5 million).
Also listed were defence chief Vitalis Zvinavashe, who received $8,8 million, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri who secured $13,2 million, and the controversial Joceylin Chiwenga who got $3,2 million.
Government sources this week said there was no systematic assessment of would-be beneficiaries.
The sources said the agreement with beneficiaries stipulated that beneficiaries should produce two crops per annum.
The farmers are expected to repay their loans through a stop order system when they deliver their crops to the Grain Marketing Board.
The sources said some of the money was not paid directly to farmers but to suppliers.
President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Leo doubled as beneficiary in his individual capacity and as service provider through his company Stewart & Lloyds. He received $7 million under the rehabilitation fund and his company generated business worth $60 million from the scheme.
Investigations have revealed that 685 farmers benefited from the scheme with the majority of them having links to the ruling party in one way or the other.
At the time of going to press Arda, which distributed the money, had not responded to written questions.