End of the road for Deputy Minister of Agriculture Douglas Karoro

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THE Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Douglas Karoro, has been fired by President Mnangagwa “for conduct inappropriate for a Deputy Minister” following his arrest and remand for defrauding the Presidential Inputs Scheme of US$73 300 worth of inputs over the last two months .

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, confirmed the dismissal in a statement last night.

“His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde ED Mnangagwa, in terms of section 340, subsection (1), paragraph (f), as read with section 104, subsection (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, has with immediate effect, removed Honourable Douglas Karoro (MP) from Office of Deputy Minister of Government, for conduct inappropriate for a Deputy Minister,” Dr Sibanda said.

The inputs included 700 bags of fertiliser, US$18 000 worth of maize seed and 5 000 vegetable seed kits from Presidential inputs schemes that were fraudulently diverted and sold between March and April.

The inputs came from the Grain Marketing Board Mushumbi Pools Depot in Mbire, Mashonaland Central Province, and were intended for Mbire.

The former deputy minister, who is out on $50 000 bail, is jointly charged with Jeremy Phiri and Dean Dzimunya, said to be his runners, and Lovejoy Ngowe, the Mushumbi GMB depot manager.

Appearing before a Harare magistrate last month, the State alleged that in April this year, Karoro approached Phiri and told him that he was looking for buyers for 700 bags of Compound D fertiliser he was selling for US$16 a bag.

Widdorn Chiodza paid for the fertiliser and Karoro allegedly told Ngowe to expect trucks to load. Ngowe in turn issued the vouchers in Karoro’s name.

Drastic efforts to reclaim the fertiliser were then put in place with 400 bags bought back from Chiodza and another 300 bags bought from a retailer.

To cover up, it is alleged, Karoro and Chidamba allegedly hired Richard Tsiga, a transporter, to ferry the bags to GMB Aspindale purporting that they wanted to swap with ammonium nitrate.

Karoro allegedly escorted Tsiga with a truck loaded with the first 400 bags of Compound D to GMB Aspindale for the swap deal but that depot refused to accept the bags on the grounds that his documentation was questionable.

Karoro allegedly intervened and negotiated for the swap with the Aspindale GMB Chain Supply Manager, Mr Obert Zhoya, who told Ngowe to raise a depot-to-depot transfer so that they could accept the fertiliser at GMB Aspindale.

Ngowe allegedly raised the vouchers and sent them to GMB Aspindale, which then accepted 400 bags of Compound D fertiliser. Tsiga’s truck was then loaded with 400 bags of ammonium nitrate but never arrived at Mushumbi depot.

This only came to light when the other 300 bags of Compound D went to GMB Aspindale for another swap and Aspindale opted to use their own truck to deliver the ammonium nitrate, but when Ngowe confirmed the second truck had arrived, he told Mr Zhoya that the first truck had never arrived.

GMB Aspindale asked Karoro to return the 400 bags and he then contacted Tsiga, who told him that the fertilisers were offloaded at Chidamba’s place.

Karoro then allegedly went to Mbare in Harare at a place known as Kuma Banana and recovered 200 bags of Ammonium Nitrate before he engaged Tsiga to take them back to GMB Aspindale.

He further asked Chidamba to look for another 200 bags of ammonium nitrate. Chidamba bought 201 bags of calcium ammonium nitrate, a cotton fertiliser, in Dzivarasekwa and had them moved to GMB Aspindale in the presence of Karoro.

The State alleges that the stolen fertilisers were worth US$27 300 and 501 bags of fertiliser, some suspected to be fake, were recovered.

The State further alleges that on March 7, Ngowe allegedly received 30 050 tonnes of seed maize worth US$18 030 which was meant for the Presidential Input Programme to benefit Mbire Constituency but allegedly split the seed with Karoro.

On March 23, Karoro allegedly did the same with 5 000 Vegetable Combo kits from Valley Seed Private Limited, which were supposed to be handed over to GMB Mushumbi under the Presidential Input Programme.

— Herald


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