THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has failed to pay workers at two of its estates in Rusitu and Middle Sabi. This has affected 2 600 employees amid speculation that
the organisation’s funds were diverted to other uses.
At Rusitu, located in Chimanimani, the parastatal has failed to pay its 200 employees for the past two months, while in Middle Sabi 2 400 workers have been affected.
Employees at the Arda headquarters say they only received their January salaries in February.
In the Middle Sabi, Arda grows wheat, cotton and seed maize whilst in Rusitu one of the major products is coffee.
Arda chief executive Joseph Matowanyika could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the office attending a meeting.
By the time of going to press Matowanyika had not responded to this paper’s queries.
Officials at the parastatal however said the issue of salaries was being addressed.
They said that a fortnight ago, Matowanyika convened a meeting with staff at head office to proffer his apologies but there was no “solution”.
The officials said a number of farm workers had been affected because of the change of ownership of the farms as a result of the land reform programme.
Arda recently clinched a deal with a Chinese company to produce and export tobacco.
Under last year’s agreement, Arda is during the 2004/5 marketing season expected to sell two million kg of the golden leaf, with the bulk of it going to China.
Matowanyika last year said under the deal, they had agreed to increase output to 10 million kg this year, and between 20 and 30 million kg next year.
Zimbabwe and China have signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding although nothing much has come of them as Chinese companies insist on cash upfront for their services and products.