THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts has given Sakunda Holdings and its founder Kudakwashe Tagwirei the last chance to appear before the committee on 16th March.
Public Accounts Committee chairperson Tendai Biti (MDC-Alliance, Harare East) says that should the fuel and commodities firm fail to stick with the deadline, the committee will be forced to engage the police to drag the company bosses to appear before Parliament for scrutiny.
Biti’s committee wishes to probe how the firm dealt with Government under the Command Agriculture.
“We are expecting to present our report to Parliament on March 22nd, and we have given Sakunda Holdings another chance to come before us and give oral evidence. We have gathered a lot of information on the financial transactions that occurred between Sakunda Holdings and the Treasury.
“As a committee, we do not want to reach a situation where we will have to engage the police through the Clerk of Parliament to summon Sakunda Holdings executives including Kudakwashe Tagwirei to appear before Parliament and give evidence,” Biti told Zimbolivenews.
Biti said his committee had reached a conclusion that Treasury funds handed to Sakunda for Command Agriculture were not used for the intended purposes, but that view can change if Sakunda bosses convince the Public Accounts committee otherwise.
“Sakunda Holdings bosses must stop this business of dodging us, so this is the last chance that we are giving them. We will definitely rope in the police if the last chance is not taken up,” said Biti.
Biti further said the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act empowered a Parliamentary committee to summon any person or organization to appear before it and submit any evidence that may so be required.
“As a committee, we do have the powers to conduct the hearings and get the evidence we need. We are to write a report to Parliament and end this probe into Command Agriculture, but we cannot do that if Sakunda Holdings is this evasive.
“If we fail to summon Kudakwashe Tagwirei and Sakunda Holdings, then there is no probe into Command Agriculture to talk about and the matter will never die out just like that. “Sakunda Holdings is central to the probe into Command Agriculture as it was paid billions of public funds by Treasury and that money has to be accounted for,” fumed Biti, who is also the opposition MDC Vice President.
Documents from Treasury show that Sakunda Holdings was paid US$2 billion in public funds throuht Treasury Bills during the period that Command Agriculture was in operation, around 2015 to 2017. Previous sittings of the Public Accounts Committee meant to grill Tagwirei, who is a Zanu-PF benefactor, have failed after Zanu-PF MPs pulled out of Biti’s committee, leaving him without a quorum to conduct the hearings.
The Zanu-PF MPs pulled out last years in retaliation after MDC MPs had walked out on President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he presented his State of the Nation Address in Parliament, saying they did not recognize his legitimacy.