Government has stepped in to protect the debt-ridden Grain Marketing Board (GMB)’s assets after creditors threatened to attach the parastatal’s property over nearly $100 million in unpaid debts.
This follows the gazetting last Friday of new regulations directing creditors to demand payment from the government and stop attaching the parastatal’s assets.
Part of the Finance Bill, set to be debated in Parliament today, reads: “In order to protect the assets of the Grain Marketing Board from attachment, it is proposed to extend to it the provisions of the State Liabilities Act (Chapter 22:13).”
According to the Government Gazette, the new regulations would be effected with the amendment of the GMB Act Chapter 18:14 to include section 56A that will deal with “legal proceedings against Board”, a clause that will also affect all legal proceedings against the GMB that could have “commenced or completed before the date of commencement of this Act”.
The proposal came at a time the GMB was currently locked up in a legal battle with two Kenyan firms demanding close to $100 million from the parastatal over maize and wheat supplied between 2005 and 2008.
GMB management last week spent most of the time fighting to stop the attachment of the property by the Deputy Sheriff after Venturas and Samukange Legal Practitioners, lawyers representing Holbund Limited and Hydrey Limited of Kenya, successfully registered their awards with the High Court.
High Court judge Justice Andrew Mutema granted the order after the GMB failed to file an opposing affidavit to the Registrar of High Court within 10 days, according to court papers. The award in favour of the two Kenyan companies was made on June 8 by Retired Justice George Smith.
The Deputy Sheriff reportedly gave notice to attach GMB Head Office Dura Building in Eastlea, Aspindale and Masasa depots — all in Harare — on Friday July 13 before proceeding to the Norton depot on Monday July 16.
Efforts to seek clarification from the GMB failed as general manager Albert Mandizha referred questions to the corporate affairs department since last Wednesday.
But GMB spokesperson Muriel Zemura had not responded to questions sent to her office by the time of going to print yesterday.