By VENERANDA LANGA
Fert Seed and Grain (FSG) managing director Steve Morland yesterday distanced his company from a funeral business with a similar name as Parliament grilled him over the $400 million the fertiliser firm was paid under the Command Agriculture programme.
Morland appeared before the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture to speak on the fertiliser situation as the country prepares for the summer cropping season.
He told the committee that there was confusion between his fertiliser manufacturing company and another company, FSG, which was a funeral parlour.
Wadyajena said Finance ministry director of finance Hazvineyi Churu and former Accountant-General Daniel Muchemwa, who resigned, had claimed to Parliament that FSG was a funeral parlour and had benefited from US$400 million funds for Command Agriculture.
But Morland denied any relationships with FSG Funeral Company.
“We have nothing to do with the funeral services group. We are a fertiliser company. I do not know anything about funerals. We are into fertiliser business and the funding that we received in 2016, 2017 and 2018 amounts to over RTGS$400 million and not US dollars,” he said.
“Of that amount, 20% was RTGS dollars and the balance was in Treasury Bills. We also managed to deliver all our targets in full, despite these funds being in RTGS dollars. We had to get letters of credit (LCs) from banks to get US dollars to import raw materials.”
Wadyajena then asked Morland to explain why the Finance ministry officials claimed his company was a funeral services company.
“To be honest, I do not even know the gentleman that mentioned that we are a funeral company. I have never met him. I can only assume that these people do not know us as FSG because our company is Fert Seed and Grain, and when they were asked who FSG was, they could have thought it was the funeral services company. If you Google FSG, it is the funeral services company that comes up which we have no relation with,” he said.
Sable Chemicals chief executive officer Bothwell Nyajeka, Windmill chief executive officer George Rundago and Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company managing director Richard Ndafana also appeared before the same committee where they testified that lack of foreign currency was severely affecting the fertiliser industry.
The different fertiliser producers said while they had capacity to produce enough fertiliser, they were worried as farmers had no disposable incomes to buy the product, which costs between $400 and $450 (US$29) per bag.
Ndafana said while FSG got most of the presidential input contracts to supply fertiliser, other fertiliser companies were struggling to get government contracts, and so were struggling to sell off their fertiliser.