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More Questions For Zimbabwe Central Banker In Fertilizer Scandal

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has continued to face questions about his institution's purchase of 70,000 tonnes of sub-standard fertilizer from an obscure South African company, dealing another setback to agriculture.

Parliament's committee on lands has summoned Gono and Agriculture ministry Permanent Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa to answer more questions. Gono was recently called on the carpet on the subject before Vice President Joyce Mujuru and the National Economic Recovery Council she chairs, and an extraordinary cabinet meeting presided over by President Robert Mugabe.

Following those two high-level meetings, Gono declared he had satisfied the cabinet and went on the offensive, accusing unnamed cabinet members of trying to smear him ahead of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s annual conference next month.

Acting Chairman Edward Mkhosi of the lands committe told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although Gono has been grilled at the highest levels, his committee is determined to get to the bottom of the matter.

Though it is not yet clear how much damage to next year's crops has been caused by the fertilizer - some of which was distributed to farmers - founding president Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has predicted another failed harvest and blasted the government for “corruption and inept planning."

Tsvangirai said the country was witnessing a “classic case of bungling: inadequate or fake seed, sub-standard fertilizer, heavily subsidized fuel which is being diverted to the black market and shoddy preparations for the (agricultural) industry’s revival.” He said such mistakes in previous years have led to current severe food shortages.

Tsvangirai called on the Mugabe government to end the political and economic crisis with an overhaul of the constitution and a round of free and fair elections.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...