Goche told the House of Assembly that his ministry was not responsible for the disbursements of Zinara funds to local authorities, stating that as a matter of policy, councils received what they would have requested for their road development projects.
“The minister is not responsible for the direct disbursements of funds to local authorities. This is the jurisdiction of Zinara board,” Goche said. “However, I have to say the amounts disbursed were in relation to providing of acquittals for previous disbursements.”
The minister said this in response to Masvingo West MP Mharadza Tachiona’s question on what criterion was used by the ministry in the disbursement of US$15 million for road maintenance when one takes into consideration that half of the funds were disbursed to Zvimba, Bindura and Rusununguko (Shamva) districts at the expense of districts from the southern provinces.
Zvimba, President Robert Mugabe’s home district, received slightly above US$2 million, second to Bindura that received US$2,6 million and other Mashonaland districts received more than US$100 000 in comparison to southern districts that received mostly amounts less than US$100 000.
Tachiona interjected as Goche tried to distance his ministry from the disbursement of the funds, saying the minister had allocated his home district more money in a clear case of political patronage.
“You disbursed a substantial amount of money to your constituency,” he said.
Goche is the MP for Shamva North.
Insiza MP Siyabonga Ncube also called for fairness and transparency in the distribution of the funds as toll gates were found across all provinces.
“Minister, the national cake should be shared equitably among the districts. There is a feeling that disbursements are not being done fairly,” charged Ncube.
Goche defended the disbursements and maintained there was no corruption or political patronage that was used in the allocation of the funds. Tempers flared as MPs heckled the minister and the Speaker, Lovemore Moyo, had to call the House to order.
After calm was restored, Goche said: “There are other councils that got more than the published figures in past disbursements. If you want, I can give you the full list. There was no corruption. The councils receive what they request for their projects.”
Mugabe and his loyalists have over the years been accused of grabbing national resources to develop their own regions at the expense of others. This has created imbalances in national development and angered other regions which felt marginalised.
The disbursement of tollgate funds collected between August last year and June this year has raised questions about Mugabe’s role in ensuring fair distribution of national resources, especially after his home district, a place with little commercial activity, and Bindura, the capital of the Zanu PF stronghold, Mashonaland Central, got the lion’s share.
An analysis of the distribution pattern of tollgate money contained in Finance minister Tendai Biti’s recent Mid-Term fiscal policy review statement clearly shows that proportionally most of the US$15 million already disbursed by Zinara to different districts for the maintenance of the country’s road network went to Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central.