Clear confusion over afforestation funds: Parly

PARLIAMENT has urged the Executive to clear the confusion over issues of management of the Afforestation Fund, which Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa placed under the control of the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), instead of the Forestry Commission.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

A recent report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment chaired by Yeukai Simbanegavi (Zanu PF) said the matter must be put to its finality, as it has resulted in $8 million raised for the fund since 2015 lying idle because it has no constitution.

The Afforestation Fund is mired in controversy because the Forestry Commission claims they should supervise it, but Chinamasa wrested the fund from them and placed it under TIMB, which is chaired by his wife, Monica.

“The committee advocates for the executive to clear the confusion on the management of the Afforestation Fund, which is a subject of debate between TIMB and the Forestry Commission,” Simbanegavi said, while presenting the report.

“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning should support the capitalisation of parastatals on a rotational basis in order to capacitate them, and the committee strongly recommends that the Forestry Commission should be capacitated through government grants in order to motivate key personnel,” the report said.

The minister will appear before Parliament soon to defend his decision, which have is said could have been a case of nepotism.

Chinamasa should have appeared last week to give oral evidence on the issue, but the meeting failed to materialise since he was in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum.

The issue became a hot potato last year, when Forestry Commission management lodged a complaint before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment that the fund had been illegally wrested from them.

The fund entails that a 1,5 % Tobacco Levy be paid towards the Afforestation Fund by farmers to cater for the environment through afforestation.

The money was meant to assist tobacco farmers in growing gum trees and access alternatives to firewood for curing tobacco.

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