Desperate situation calls for desperate measures, so goes the saying. But for one southern African nation with depleted coffers, those measures have been stretched to the extreme.
This week, Grain Marketing Board of Zimbabwe – an ailing parastatal suddenly “discovered” that it is owed US$3 million owed by Zambia for maize delivered 10 years ago.
So the money is now urgently needed.
General manager Albert Mandizha told a parliamentary committee that the debt, which was US$1, 8 million before interest was being discussed by the Attorneys General from the two neighbours.
He said Zambia had paid part of the debt and the issue was now before the
“Attorneys-General for both countries are currently working on the issue. The issue is still alive; we are still pursuing it. The issue has also been delayed after the Zambian Attorney-General’s term of office expired with a new person coming in but discussions are still continuing,” Mandizha told the committee.
Mandizha also attributed the dispute over payments for the maize to the change of leadership in Zambia.
However, so irony is that Zimbabwe is cashing after a mere US$3million debt at a time when it owes up to US$5,7 billion to some international financial institutions.
The maize was delivered at a time when Zimbabwe was a major exporter of maize in the region before the collapse of the agriculture sector a decade
ago following President Robert Mugabe’s controversial agrarian reforms.
The cash-strapped coalition government requires US$500 million to secure enough food to feed the nation amid a serious drought that has gripped the country.