Tobacco companies fraudulent deals exposed

By Kay Kaseke

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said it will take action to ensure compliance within the industry after it emerged that two contract companies are into illegal dealings.

This emerged during the tour of tobacco companies by the Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena.

The committee toured tobacco companies on a fact finding mission to assess their preparedness in safeguarding farmers against COVID-19, and parliamentarians came face to face with fraudulent dealings in the industry amid revelations that Moonberg and Countryside Leaf are operating without licences.

TIMB Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Matibiri who was part of the tour expressed disappointment on companies which are operating without licences stating that he only found out about the matter after parliament wrote him a letter.

“Investigations will be carried out to understand the obtaining situation on the ground especially with those companies that are operating behind our back and we will take action on those that transgressed. Palriament will proceed to other companies this Thursday,” he said.

Howver Central Leaf Tobacco Managing director Onwell Zvaravashe said his company is eyeing to reach 7 million kilograms of the golden leaf this year considering they contracted 4800 farmers.

“We have contracted 4800 growers and we gave them fertilisers, chemicals and packaging. We invested close to half a million in inputs with 35 agronomists in communal farms as it is out catchment area. We want to start exports and we are doing paper work but our target is 2 million kilograms for exports since exports are a domain of foreign merchants,” he said.

Farmers appealed to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to review the interbank rate as they feel it is low considering that companies sell inputs charge them at black market rate and they refuse payment in RTGS.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement chairman Justice Mayor Wadyajena said the committee will continue with the fact finding mission and a statement will be issued after the completion of the tour.

The other companies visited include, Sub-Sahara Tobacco, Mbaluk Tobacco and Central Leaf Tobacco.

Tendai Guvamombe