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The Zimbabwe Progressive Tobacco Farmers Union is facing closure for operating without a licence and allegedly misappropriating over $750 000 belonging to farmers.

The union also evaded paying tax amounting to $429 105 and failed to pay $626 191 to its creditors while accruing an interest charge of $243 279 from an Interfin Bank loan. ZPTFU is led by its president Mr Nicholas Kamupungu and chief executive Mr Davert Muzvidzwa.

The audit conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development between December last year and February this year covered the period since the union’s inception in 2010. According to the report, ZPTFU’s executive failed to account for $239 598, misused Interfin Bank loan repayment funds amounting to $143 573, misused inputs funds of $20 384 and did not refund farmers their inputs funds of $54 355. The executive also misplaced 29 receipt books with an estimated average amount of $10 000 each.

The union’s executive is also being accused of registering as an employer’s organisation while it operated as a tobacco farmers’ union.

According to the audit report, the ZPTFU applied to register as a union with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development in 2010 and the registration was denied.

The ministry then recommended that the union be registered as a commodity association because it was specialising in a single commodity (tobacco).

The union was aised to affiliate to an already existing union. Instead of following the recommendations, the union leaders went on to register with the then Ministry of Labour and Social Services as an employer’s organisation, but continued to operate as a farmers’ union.

Source : The Herald