Local Government minister July Moyo was yesterday grilled in Parliament over government’s engagement of a company owned by former first lady Grace Mugabe as debt collectors in several local authorities.
Opposition MDC MP Job Sikhala set the ball rolling yesterday during the questions without notice session in the National Assembly, questioning the legality of the engagement of Wellcash Debt Collectors whose directors allegedly include former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
“We know that during the climax of the previous government commissions were appointed to run local authorities which went on to engage Wellcash Debt Collectors which we know for certain is owned by Grace Mugabe and Kasukuwere so we would want to know what the company’s locus standi is in doing so,” Sikhala asked.
In response, Moyo said he was not aware of the company and suggested that the former St Mary’s MP bring evidence to that effect.
This drew the ire of MDC legislators who all stood up in unison, each of them itching to ask follow up supplementary questions.
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda, however, gave it to Sikhala to exhaust his questions as he had also stood up on a point of clarification.
“If the minister does not know about the company that is collecting debts on behalf of local authorities including Harare, Chitungwiza, Gweru and some other municipalities, then it is safe to conclude that he is sleeping on duty,” Sikhala said, adding that “I can bring primary evidence to substantiate what I am saying”.
This prompted Mudenda to direct Moyo to properly respond to the question to which the minister responded by saying “I am not aware of any policy of government that allows local authorities to engage debt collectors and if there is any, the MP can give me the names so we can correct that”.
However, Mudenda — clearly unsatisfied by the response — reminded Moyo that the company is known and that he ought to consider what the legislator had raised.
“The company is known and I suggest that the minister should go down and find out and then come back with a ministerial statement on the issue,” Mudenda ruled.
The Wellcash issue is not new in Parliament after it was raised in the eighth Parliament in a motion moved by the then Matabeleland South Proportional Representative MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC).
Misihairabwi-Mushonga wanted to know why and how the company was contracted by several entities to do debt collection ahead of other companies.
While the legislator pointed out that Wellcash has four directors including John Mutonono, Cashington Mavunduke, Panganai Fobo and Lancilot Muswere she doubted that given the coverage that it enjoyed in the public media “it just cannot have these people, they must be some bigger force somewhere”.
The same issue was also raised by the then Zanu PF Goromonzi West MP Beata Nyamupinga.