By Renson Gasela
HOW fake fertiliser was imported tells the nation, like no other story, how state institutions have all been collapsed under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabw
It is clear that the RBZ now runs everything instead of facilitating. We hear that they have imported combine harversters, tractors, ploughs etc. Who actually imported these?
It was reported last week that the RBZ was going to rehabilitate agricultural equipment and farm machinery. Who is going to select the companies that will do the rehabilitation?
Let me go back to the fertiliser. The unknown South African company was given the order in June to supply Compound D fertiliser because we are told that by June 30, the Chemistry & Soil Research Institute had carried out tests on the fertiliser, presumably samples. The company was given an order of US$45 million to supply the fertiliser.
We know that the local fertiliser industry requires around the same amount of foreign currency to import raw materials to manufacture all the fertilisers required in the country. Although this allocation was done in June, if this was made to the local industry, at least they would have been in full production half the year and produced more than half the country’s requirements.
The economic benefits of providing foreign currency to enable local industry to operate should really be in the priorities of the monetary authorities.
If it was necessary that manufactured fertiliser be imported, the correct thing would be to go to tender, get samples tested by experts and award the tender. Resources should have been made available to either the Grain Marketing Board to import or to the local fertiliser companies.
It was reported that a delegation of senior personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture and the GMB went to inspect the quality of fertiliser. What do those senior officials know about the chemical composition of the fertiliser other than looking at the composition as written on the bag?
If what was reported on ZimOnline that Agriculture ministry’s permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa in reply to a letter from the RBZ on November 7 stated that the ministry did not know the suppliers of fertiliser as they were known or selected by the RBZ is true, then this country is truly finished. Is it not the role of the RBZ to ensure compliance? If it is now the importer, who will dare challenge it?
* Renson Gasela is MDC Secretary for Lands and Agriculture.