Tempers flare over ‘secretive’ Arda deals

TEMPERS flared in Parliament yesterday as Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) board chairperson Basil Nyabadza pointed fingers at the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture Justice Mayor Wadyajena, accusing the Zanu PF legislator of “acting like a headmaster’ by asking tough questions.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Nyabadza lost his temper after he and his chief executive officer Willard Mbona were grilled over the authority’s operations, including providing proof of agreements they signed with different organisations to spearhead different farming projects at their estates.

Mbona angered the committee when he refused to produce the signed agreements, saying Arda had signed a confidentiality clause with its partners.

Wadyajena then asked Mbona to read out loudly a letter which he had written to the committee and copied to the Zanu PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke, where he claimed that if the agreements were to be made public, the information would cause more companies to be placed under sanctions.

“Due to the security nature of our country, and that most of our investors that have defied their foreign governments to support Zimbabwean agriculture, the agreements have confidentiality clauses….and if the partners are revealed in the public domain they may be added on the sanctions list,” Mbona’s letter read.

“This may then negatively affect our national thrust to mobilise foreign direct investment because in the past our investors like Billy Rautenbach have been placed under sanctions,” he said.

Wadyajena also revealed to MPs that Mbona had through the back door also sent him text messages trying to see him (Wadyajena) “privately” for unclear reasons.

“He copied the letter to Zanu PF because he wants to intimidate MPs.”

Mberengwa North MP Tafanana Zhou added: “Mbona is still living in the old dispensation, but this new dispensation requires that there be transparency in government contracts.”

The grilling was then directed to Nyabadza, who vowed not to disclose the contracts in the presence of the media.


As the arguments got heated up, Nyabadza lost his temper and started shouting at Wadyajena saying: “You are now dictating to us, you want to behave like a headmaster.”

Wadyajena then indicated that Nyabadza and Mbona would be charged for contempt of Parliament.

Nyabadza shouted back pointing fingers at Wadyajena: “The law will protect the innocent. Those are threats. You are behaving like a headmaster.”

The Arda board will appear again before Parliament this afternoon.

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