By Tendai Munengwa
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) is investigating 25 tobacco companies allegedly involved in corruption and under-declaration of tobacco export receipts, prejudicing the country of millions of United States dollars.
ZACC Chairperson, Justice Matanda-Moyo confirmed to ZBC News that the net is closing in on tobacco companies who allegedly abused government funding meant for small holder farmers.
“There are serious allegations of corruption in the tobacco industry which have been going on for long. We have gathered that some companies accessed funding from government coffers meant for small scale tobacco farmers and pretend as if there have secured funding for them. After disbursing inputs from that fund the tobacco produced was supposed to be sold on free open market, but they diverted the crop to contract sales. This is fraud,” she said.
The anti-corruption watchdog has also cast its net wider on tobacco companies allegedly involved in under declaration of tobacco export invoices.
“There are other companies which after we gathered information from RBZ, are misrepresenting export transfer receipts. This is prejudicing the country millions of dollars,” she added.
The latest investigations by ZACC of 25 tobacco companies follows the arrest of Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive officer Meanwell Gudu and other officials on allegations of mismanagement of a government initiated Tobacco Fund meant to empower small-holder farmers.