By James Martin
Treasury in 2018 paid USD$400 million to a funeral parlour called FSG to supply fertilisers and seed for the Command Agriculture program, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts has heard.
This revelation comes barely two weeks after the Ministry of Agriculture professed ignorance to the US$3.2 billion which it is alleged to have received from treasury which is not supported by any documentation.
Instead, the Agriculture Ministry told Parliament that treasury wrote letters to it ordering them to assume the expenditure they did not incur amounting (USD$3.2 billion) in 2017 and 2018 farming seasons.
However, chief principal director Zvinechimwe Churu and the accountant general Daniel Muchemwa stunned legislators when they failed to furnish Parliament with details of US$400million which was paid to FSG whose core business is funeral services.
“Who is FSG? Who are the directors of this company?
In his response to the questions and with agreement from his team Churu answered: “I can say I do not know.”
Biti, however, would have none of it as he continued to press Churu and his company to tell the truth.
“You know you are under oath. You don’t know your clients?
“How is it possible that you pay US$400 million to someone who you don’t know? How does it happen?
“If you pay something to someone whom you don’t know it is illegal according to the laws of this country. Everyone here knows it is a crime,” Biti added.
Churu instead went defensive saying his responsibility was to facilitate payment not to look into the procurement issues.
“Our focus is on financing. Anything to do with procurement has nothing to do with us. If you go to Boka there is that company known as FSG. I once bought fertiliser from that company,” he said.
Accountant general Daniel Muchemwa admitted to the committee that FSG is a funeral services holding company adding that its subsidiary which he could not name is the one that deals with fertiliser supplies.
Churu and his colleagues from the Ministry of Finance admitted to Parliament that they breached the Public Funds Management Act knowingly by not subjecting FSG to tender processes as is required.