Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Treasury drags feet on afforestation fund

Treasury drags feet on afforestation fund 

Ndakaziva Majaka Deputy Markets Editor 

TREASURY is yet to disburse over $20 million to the Affor­estation Fund, more than three years after farmers started contribut­ing to the kitty, it has emerged. 

The Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) has, since January 2015, collected levies from tobacco growers at a rate of $0,015 of each dollar made in sales. 

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union crop executive Simbarashe Muchena said farmers were growing impatient. 

“We have a very big issue with that fund. We agreed to part with our money to address deforestation. It has now accumulated to over $20 million and we are yet to hear of its disbursement. We are lobbying Treasury to release the funds,” Muchena said during a recent Financial Ga­zette Executive Dialogue on the to­bacco value chain. 

TIMB chief executive Andrew Matibiri confirmed that the money had not been disbursed. 

“Disbursements have not yet started. We understand the Ministry of Finance is working on something towards disbursement of that money in line with the 2017 National Bud­get statement. The money is about $ 14 million now,” Matibiri said. 

In his 2017 budget statement, Fi­nance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said disbursements would start in 2017, but did not give dates. 

TIMB has been writing to Trea­sury seeking guidelines on how to use the funds when they were dis­bursed. 

He said the TIMB board could not make a decision on how the money would be used without the ministry’s approval. 

In 2015, Matibiri said the TIMB had opened an account with CBZ Bank, with $7 million being deposit­ed by October the same year. 

“The money has been sitting in the account,” the TIMB boss said back then. 

After being phased out in 2005, the afforestation levy was reintro­duced in 2014 and the TIMB has been levying tobacco growers since January 2015.  


TIMB chairperson Monica Chinamasa (pictured) is on record say­ing the ministry of finance must respond urgently as farmers suspect the funds were being abused. 

“Farmers may think their money has been abused. It is wrong for farmers to contribute to a project that does not kick off. They want to see action. We are afraid the fund may be channelled to other organisations such as the Forestry Commission. 

“The fund was collected by TIMB and it should be the one that should execute the projects. If oth­er organisations want to set up their own projects* they should raise; their own money,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Farmers Union chief executive,; Ed­ward Dube said tobacco farmers had started a parallel tree growing proj­ect without the funds. 

“We have now started planting the trees. However, Treasury still needs to disburse the funds,” Dube said.    


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