The state-owned Agricultural Marketing Authority says it intends to borrow $155 million to buy maize to supplement available grain reserves in the country.
Giving oral evidence before the parliamentary agriculture portfolio committee, AMA chief executive officer, Rocky Mutenha, said the organization has wrote to the government three weeks ago requesting a guarantee to borrow money for the Grain Marketing Board to buy about 250,000 tons of maize.
He said AMA expects the GMB to use the money buy the maize for its commercial division as they have to repay the borrowed funds.
Mutenha added that a further $100 million would be raised locally and internationally to buy more grain, adding the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is advising the authority on how to raise this amount.
Maize is not a controlled crop in Zimbabwe. Mutenha said the GMB would compete with private players to buy the grain on the local market. He said private players have assured AMA they will also buy grain locally before going to foreign markets.
Zimbabwe needs about two million metric tons of grain annually but the GMB has been failing to buy enough maize due to under-funding by the treasurer.
The move by AMA compliments other efforts by the government and the GMB to ensure food security in the country by buying enough maize to feed the nation.
Meanwhile, Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa told the Senate Tuesday that the government has set up an interim management team to run the troubled Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) team comprising officials from the Ministries of Health, Finance, Public Service, President’s Office and Civil Service Commission.
He said the team’s key role would be to call for the annual general meeting and consult members on the way forward.
Parirenyatwa said following developments at PSMAS and other medical aid societies where top executives were earning millions of dollars at the expense of service delivery, the government would soon set-up an authority to regulate their operations.
There are more than 30 medical aid societies representing only one percent of the total population in the country.
Parirenyatwa said it is important for the country to explore possibilities of setting up a national health insurance so everyone is covered regardless of their financial status.
Matabeleland South senator Watchy Sibanda said the Senate welcomed Dr. Parirenyatwa’s announcement on PSMAS, but turned down the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs’s attempt to read the amendment of the country’s Electoral Act for the second time, as the senate was not yet prepared for its discussion.
The Bill seeks to align the issue of proportional representation and that of the election of Provincial Councils with the new constitution.