TOP Zanu-PF officials were on Wednesday arrested for allegedly defrauding more than 15 000 farmers of their hard-earned cash through a dubious inputs scheme.Police arrested Zanu-PF director for youth affairs and indigenisation Cde Tapiwa Zengeya and Patience Chipere – one of the directors of Lasch Investments – a company engaged to supply farmers with some inputs.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the arrests saying two other people wanted in connection with the case were on the run.
“We have arrested two officials and police are keen to investigate Nelson and Sylvester Mahupete,” she said.
Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Ignatius Chombo condemned the corrupt conduct of the officials saying the party would take necessary disciplinary measures.
Cde Zengeya has since resigned from his post and requested redeployment to another portfolio after he was implicated in the inputs scandal.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Youths Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi confirmed that Cde Zengeya requested to be relieved from his position.
“He made a formal request to move out of the Youth League,” he said. “He said he was no longer comfortable to be under the department.”
This comes at a time when the Youth League has distanced itself from the botched inputs deal.
Cde Togarepi said he had called for immediate removal of the parry logo on all correspondence involving Lasch Investments.
“The Zanu-PF Youth League hereby dissociates itself from any dealings or activities of Lasch Investments and calls for immediate removal of its official logo on all documents and any other material that belongs to the so-called joint venture,” he said.
“The Zanu-PF Youth League distances itself from the unscrupulous dealings by some members of the party, specifically Tapiwa Zengeya (former youth director) and members of Lasch Investments.”
Cde Togarepi said the party had directed reimbursement of the farmers who were duped in the fake deal and those in Lasch to return the farmers’ funds they looted.
He urged the police to investigate the matter and bring to book all those found on the wrong side of the law.
Addressing journalists at Zanu-PF headquarters on Wednesday, Cde Chombo said the party would take necessary disciplinary measures against the accused officials and that police already had been briefed about the matter.
“As a party, we condemn the abuse of hard- earned resources of our populace. Any empowerment initiatives must be in the interest of the
majority and not for the benefit of a selected few and must be clear, transparent, fair, legal and above board,” said Cde Chombo.
He deplored Lasch Investments for failing to meet their obligations, leaving farmers stranded with no recourse against a background of the commencement of a promising rainy season.
He said Lasch Investments Company had approached the party’s Youth League to enter into a joint venture support with farmers so as to increase production and productivity through an input support scheme.
It was envisaged that farmers would make contributions and in turn get agricultural inputs.
The company launched a US$2,4 billion inputs facility scheme where farmers paid a joining fee of US$36 dollars, US$5 Agritex stamp and various amounts of money as insurance calculated in accordance with the intended hectarage.
The company management allegedly used the money to buy cars, stationery and mobile phones. The Lasch management had deserted its CSC premises as farmers demanded answers on the whereabouts of their money.
Since last week, the company management has been evading farmers and not answering phones.
Farmers have been camping at the company’s head office for the past two months and last Friday they detained Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Absolom Sikhosana and force- marched from Willowvale industrial area to the party’s headquarters Cde Zengeya.