BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
Command Agriculture benefactor, Sakunda Holdings, yesterday snubbed grilling by the Tendai Biti-chaired Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over allegations that the company received over US$1 billion from government for the ambitious agricultural programme without parliamentary approval.
Sakunda Holdings, fronted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally and adviser Kudakwashe Tagwirei, was supposed to appear before PAC yesterday, but failed to show up, prompting Biti to accuse the company of a “deliberate and conscious” move to dodge the oral evidence session.
“On behalf of this committee, I want to express our extreme disappointment with the conscious deliberate arrogation by Sakunda of our function and role as a committee of scheduling today’s meeting,” Biti told journalists after the snub.
“We do not accept the attitude of Sakunda, which we regard as contemptuous and disrespectful of the institution of Parliament.”
He said the case of Sakunda Holdings was of utmost importance as there was need for clarification around the legalities of the money transfers given to the institution by government in 2017.
“Therefore, the enquiry of a dialogue and conversation with Sakunda is at the heart of the important work we are doing as mandated by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I have to emphasise that the work that we are doing is one that we must carry out in terms of sections 117 and 119 of the Constitution.”
In a letter addressed to Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda and the PAC, Sakunda said it failed to attend because its chief executive,Tagwirei, was out of the country.
Biti dismissed the excuse, arguing that Sakunda as an institution ought to have brought in representatives or individuals who could answer questions around the US$1 billion advanced by government.
“It does not matter who comes as long as he or she can answer questions around the huge amount of money they received from government, what they offered as consideration in return and the legalities of those transactions measured from the point of view of the Constitution and other laws in Zimbabwe,” Biti said.
He also said there were plans to engage the Standing Order and Rules committee to enhance Parliament and committee authority over defaulting individuals after they are summoned to Parliament.
“In future, we will make recommendations to the Standing Order and Rules Committee to empower Parliament and committees to issue the requisite warrant to defaulting members as is allowed in terms of the PPA. We have not requested the evidence from an individual, but Sakunda Holdings as an institution and, therefore, we find their excuse for not showing up a flimsy unacceptable excuse.”
Sakunda Holdings is expected to bring in representation for oral evidence on Friday.