RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya has refused to release the names of beneficiaries of the farm mechanisation equipment and inputs scheme, most of them believed to be top Zanu PF and government officials.
The beneficiaries were initially expected to pay for the machinery and inputs, but later had their debt assumed by the government under the RBZ (Debt Assumption) Act.
Between 2007 and 2008, thousands of Zanu PF-linked farmers received equipment which ranged from tractors, combine harvesters, generators to harrows under the scheme.
Mangudya refused to disclose the beneficiaries’ names after prominent lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had on May 28 requested the RBZ to release the names of the beneficiaries in line with provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The RBZ governor argued that the matter was of no public interest.
In a letter to Mangudya, Mtetwa wrote: “To enable us to properly consider the (RBZ) Bill, we kindly request that you provide us with the following information which we are requesting under AIPPA . . . a schedule of all the beneficiaries with their full particulars including full names and addresses. Where the beneficiary was a company, full particulars of such company are required. Full details of the equipment delivered to each beneficiary including the date of delivery and value of the equipment delivered.”
She added: “Where the RBZ disbursed cash and inputs to the beneficiaries, we also request for a schedule of the beneficiaries, amount disbursed and date of disbursement. Where inputs were disbursed, we request a schedule of the disbursed inputs, date of disbursement and value of inputs.”
On June 15, RBZ secretary and director in the legal services and corporate affairs department identified as AJ Manase wrote back saying: “The governor, as head of the Reserve Bank, has accordingly invoked this section to extend the time for responding from the initial 30 days to 60 days. We undertake to revert to you, therefore, by end of July 2015.”
On June 26, Mangudya personally responded to Mtetwa saying the parties involved had rights that needed to be considered insisting he needed 60 days to do that.
However, on August 28, Mangudya wrote to Mtetwa saying releasing the information was not in the public interest, hence there was no need to release it.
“The information you requested relates not to the Reserve Bank as a body but to FISCORP (Pvt Limited), a separate legal body distinct from the Reserve Bank and which had its own board and management. It is FISCORP, which dealt with farm mechanisation equipment and not the Reserve Bank per se. Your request, with respect should be directed to FISCORP (Pvt) Ltd,” Mangudya wrote.
He added: “In our view, the information requested cannot be released because doing so is not in the public interest, see section 9 of the AIPPA. It is common cause that Parliament debated the propriety of releasing this information and decided by a clear majority not to release the said information. The farm mechanisation programme was one of the survival strategies adopted by government to defend the integrity and sovereignty of the country.
“The RBZ (Debt Assumption) Act is meant for government to take over all outstanding debts owed by the Reserve Bank. All Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe creditors will thus be taken care of in this regard.” newsday