j. tomana.jpgAttorney-General Johannes Tomana says there is hope that the government of Zambia will resume servicing its long standing US$2.7 million maize debt it owes the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) of Zimbabwe.

 

This follows talks between the AG offices of the two countries.

 

Attorney-General Tomana  was giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Lands, Water and Resettlement on his involvement in the case in which the Food Reserve Aid of Zambia had stopped payment for maize supplies it received from GMB in 1997.

He said he was engaged by GMB because the parastatal felt it was proper, as the case was being handled by the Attorney General of Zambia on the other side.

The Attorney-General said: “I was engaged by GMB because they felt that they were now dealing with the AG of Zambia so they needed advice, as the case had gone beyond their level, so the case was sensitive to them.”

Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Moses Jiri said while the committee acknowledges evidence given by Mr Tomana, the GMB still has to give clear and correct facts about the debt..

“We are happy that the AG has exonerated himself by giving details referring to the case. The GMB had not come out clear on why they engaged the AG, so we will summon them again to explain the correct position of the matter,” said Jiri.

In 1997, a Zambian company, Food Reserve Aid of Zambia bought maize from GMB of Zimbabwe worth US$1,8 million, with the Zambian government as guarantor.

Five years down the line it emerged that a judgment was made by the former Attorney-General of Zambia to stop servicing the debt, resulting in GMB taking the case to court.  

Zambia claimed that it had stopped the payment because Zimbabwe owed it about US$200 million in assets at the Kariba Dam.
However, Attorney-General Tomana described the move as talk that should not affect the existing relations between the two countries.