Augustine Mukaro/ Loughty Dube
FSI Agricom chief shareholder Mutumwa Mawere has said President Mugabe was misinformed in accusing his company of accessing a large chunk of funds raised throu
gh agribonds last year at the expense of resettled farmers.
Mugabe made the allegations during a rally at Esidakeni Farm in Umguza last Friday after traditional leaders and farmers told him they were not happy with the manner the funds had been disbursed.
Contacted for comment, Mawere said he was only a shareholder in FSI Agricom. He said there was nothing wrong in the manner in which the company applied for the funds.
“There was nothing bad about the way FSI Agricom carried out its transactions,” Mawere said.
“Banks should be asked the criteria they used in disbursing the funds and someone could have misinformed the president on the matter because the fund is meant to benefit agro-processors and not individual resettled farmers as said by President Mugabe.”
Mugabe said FSI Agricom had accessed $4 billion out of $7,2 billion meant for resettled farmers who benefited under the government’s fast track land reform.
Government raised about $7,2 billion through agro-bills to finance newly resettled farmers at the height of the government-driven exercise that was completed late last year. The agro-bills were expected to raise $60 billion but failed to do so due to uncertainty in the agricultural sector and lack of government guarantees. Syfrets Bank and 15 other financial institutions were managing the agribonds.
“The government made a mistake by allowing the bonds to be administered by commercial banks without giving the financial institutions guidelines,” President Mugabe told the rally.
“A private company, FSI Agricom gobbled up about $4 billion from the fund, leaving most of the beneficiaries stranded,” Mugabe said. “This was given to a company yet the money was intended for resettled farmers.”
Most resettled farmers have not benefited from the remaining $3 billion because banks are demanding collateral which the new farmers do not have. The new farmers do not have title to the land they occupy.
Meanwhile, the government has entered into a deal with FSI Agricom to produce and market five varieties of seeds. The company is expected to market maize seed, soya beans, groundnuts, cow peas and sugar beans.
The seeds should be available on the market for the 2003/4 planting season.