TICHAONA KATSVAMUTIMA IN KAROI
The Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) has been forced to intervene in the turf war between a tobacco contracting firm, Voedsel Tobacco International, and Karoi transporters over non-payment of dues, Business Times can report.
Some transporters claim they have not been paid for over five months.
They said Voedsel promised to clear the outstanding amounts, estimated to be US$61 500 to 15 transporters from Hurungwe, Mvurwi, Rusape, and Bulawayo, who recently staged a protest at their Karoi depot.
But, Voedsel reneged on its promise.
Business Times can now report that the transporters have started receiving their payment following the intervention of TIMB, the Tobacco Transporters Association of Zimbabwe representative Rutendo Sande said this week.
“I am told the payments have started reflecting in their accounts right now. The transporters in Karoi are saying they started paying those with small trucks,” Sande said.
TIMB public affairs officer, Chelesani Moyo told Business Times: “As TIMB, we are now working towards resolving the impasse from both parties. We have requested the Tobacco Transporters Association of Zimbabwe to submit all names of transporters who have not been paid, so that we resolve the issue amicably,” Moyo said.
She added: “We all need each other for the benefit of the tobacco sector. As TIMB we will ensure that all parties are satisfied at the end of the day.”
Some of the transporters told this publication that they lost assets that were attached for failure to pay debts they owed to other service providers.
“I have lost cattle to people l owed money because l failed to pay them on time. This was after getting numerous unfulfilled promises from Voedsel that they would pay me my dues,” one transporter who requested anonymity told Business Times.
Others feel hard-done as they had to borrow money to buy fuel with the hope of timely payments for delivering tobacco bales at the sales floors.
Another transporter said he was forced me to borrow money from relatives who are now demanding cattle in lieu of their money going down the drain.
Voedsel managing director, Innocent Mahufe, through text responses, told Business Times that an audit and investigation was underway to establish correct distances transporters travelled.
Mahufe argued there were cases of gross misrepresentation of distances from where tobacco was transported.
TIMB decentralised tobacco auction floors to Karoi, where there were 21 tobacco companies buying the golden leaf as part of measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.