Zimbabwe: 'Tobacco Mafia' Covering Up TIMB Rot

18 May 2023

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) CEO Emmanuel Matsvaire who has been accused of several allegations is reportedly being shielded by the company board chair Patrick Devenish and other influential politicians.

There is a dossier which was reportedly handed over to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) which raises pertinent questions about Matsvaire's fitness to hold office.

However, the silence by investigating authorities on the allegations against Matsvaire has prompted market watchers to question the sincerity of the anti-corruption fight.

Matsvaire, sources said, is Devenish's blue-eyed boy, thereby creating a "tobacco mafia" controlled by a few chosen elite.

Sources added that Matsvaire also enjoyed some "political" connections.

The TIMB boss is also accused of being involved in intricate underhand deals with some named top white businessmen.

At the centre of the ongoing controversies at TIMB is Matsvaire, who is the substantive operations director.

The TIMB boss is allegedly making "moves" to scuttle a potentially explosive investigation "to make the case suffer a natural death".

Matsvaire, who holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics, did not respond to questions posed to him via WhatsApp recently despite having read the message as evidenced by the blue tick.

The dossier alleges that Matsvaire was involved in the misappropriation of agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and chemicals.

This, the dossier said, happened during the 2017 to 2021 farming season.

In part, the document reads: "The input clerk Ms P Chide who is stationed at TIMB head office would sent numerous 30 tonnes truckloads of inputs to four provinces (Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Manicaland). The regional managers (RM) were accountable and responsible for receiving and distributing of these inputs to growers.

"However, the RM for Manicaland by then Mr Emmanuel Matsvaire who is the current Operations Director and Acting CEO failed to account for three truckloads of inputs (1800 bags; 90 000 tonnes of fertilisers worth about US$$90,000) that were dispatched to his area.

"The inputs went missing, disappeared into thin air, they vanished and to-date were never recovered. The staff members who worked closely with him hinted that the inputs were actually received and sold by Mr Matsvaire with the cash converted into his own pocket for personal gains."

There are also allegations that Matsvaire was involved in the abuse of the TIMB Tobacco Inputs Credit Scheme (TICS) contract programme through flawed tender procedures.

"There is also a nepotism case in which Matsvaire teamed up with the TIMB human capital partner. They connived to employ Rogas Chikomo as a registration clerk at TIMB Mutare office in 2017 to 2022 June. The records show a continuous unprocedural renewal of employment contract without conducting any interviews," reads the dossier.

It is also alleged that Emmanuel Matsvaire and Divine Bona promoted Aid Taruvinga from field officer to technical officer between August and December 2022.

Questions have been raised over Taruvinga's qualifications in relation to the post.

All these cases, the dossier alleges point to Matsvaire's wrongdoing and a thorough investigation should be conducted as the government intensifies the fight against corruption.

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