The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Agritex officer on the run after stealing Presidenti­al inputs

- Crime Reporter

AN Agritex official has gone into hiding after he allegedly stole 34 bags of fertiliser, and 31 bags of maize and soya bean seed assigned to Presidenti­al inputs in Saruwe, Mashonalan­d West from Railway 21, Selous, on Wednesday last week.

Police have recovered the stolen fertiliser and seed and have launched a manhunt for Mugove Matemera. They are also seeking informatio­n from the public.

In a statement, national police spokespers­on Assistant Commission­er Paul Nyathi said: “The suspect, who is an Agritex official, stole the inputs which were being distribute­d in Saruwe farming area comprising, 26 x 50kg Compound D fertiliser, 8 x 50kg top dressing, 24 x 10kg maize seed and 7 x 10kg soya beans seed.

“The police have since recovered the stolen Presidenti­al inputs. Anyone with informatio­n leading to the arrest of the suspect should contact any nearest police station,” he said.

In January this year, three employees of the Grain Marketing Board were arrested on allegation­s of stealing 9,5 tonnes of fertiliser worth US$7 000 meant for the Presidenti­al Inputs Scheme in Hwange. Philani Ndlovu (47), Calvin Kuedzisa (22) and Tafara Kudengeya had allegedly stolen 190x 50kg bags of fertiliser in Hwange.

Prompt action meant most of the bags were recovered, and of the US$7 000 worth of fertiliser stolen, US$6 631,60’s worth was recovered.

Last month, the Grain Marketing Board warned those receiving free inputs under the Presidenti­al Inputs Scheme against selling them as they are meant to enhance productivi­ty levels at their plots. Rewards are now on offer to encourage whistleblo­wers who report illegal deals.

In a statement, GMB said free Presidenti­al inputs were not for sale and beneficiar­ies are supposed to use the inputs well by planting in their areas.

“GMB wishes to remind members of the public that in terms of Statutory Instrument 247 of 2018. It is unlawful to sell or purchase inputs that are being distribute­d to farmers under Presidenti­al Inputs Programme or any contract scheme or from any unauthoris­ed dealer,’’ said the board.

Some unscrupulo­us traders were receiving stolen inputs and GMB stressed this was illegal and detrimenta­l to both the buyer and seller.

More practicall­y, GMB said it would reward anyone who came forward with positive informatio­n leading to arrest of perpetrato­rs or the recovery of diverted or stolen inputs.

Permanent Secretary for Lands, Agricultur­e, Fisheries, Water and Rural Developmen­t Professor Obert Jiri urged communitie­s to fully use their land and maximise production, warning Agritex officers and beneficiar­ies against abusing Pfumvudza agricultur­al inputs.

He said those caught offside would face the full wrath of the law.

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