Simiyu RC orders 14-day investigation over AMCOS officials in bribery scam

By FRANK AMAN, SIMIYU

Simiyu Regional Commissioner, David Kafulila has issued a 14-days ultimatum and instructed the relevant agencies including the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Commission (PCCB) and the Police Force to conduct an investigation and take action against leaders of the Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives unions (AMCOs) who were involved in embezzlement of funds provided as subsidies to cotton growers in Simiyu Region.

Speaking to Cotton Growers and Stakeholders as well as local companies involved in the procurement of the crop, during his visit to Maswa district in Simiyu region on Monday, Mr Kafulila urged the responsible institutions to take action including seizing assets of all Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives unions (AMCOs) leaders who were involved in the embezzlement.

The move will compensate for the losses of Government funds provided as subsidies to the cotton glowers in the Region, saying that AMCOS should be protected and not used for stealing public property, so he ordered action against those who were responsible for the embezzlement.

“AMCOS officials responsible for the misappropriation of funds should be taken to court. I also urged the responsible institutions to conduct an investigation to all AMCOS leaders accused of involvement in the embezzlement as well as to elect new leaders in order to avoid similar challenges encountered in the previous season,” he said.

In addition, Kafulila added that the region’s mission is to revolutionize cotton farming so that farmers can do modern cultivation and productive agriculture and have strong partnerships, where he said unscrupulous AMCOS leaders will be prosecuted in accordance with the law including stripping them of their posts.

Mr Kafulila said through the five-year strategy for cotton production, Simiyu region hopes to increase cotton productivity from 200 kg to 600 kg per acre to reach their expectations which are 1000 kg or more per acre.

Commenting at the meeting, some cotton farmers in Simiyu region have called on the government to put an end to the AMCOS system, claiming that the unions are holding back their efforts to produce the crop especially for not paying them their dues on time.

The Alliance Company Operations Manager, Mr Kitambi Charles, expressed his concern over the disbandment of the AMCOS boards and urged the appointment of new leaders who will be honest and ensure that everyone has financial discipline when dealing with farmers’ welfare.

Mr Charles called for the responsible institutions to take action against all unscrupulous leaders, adding that about 107 AMCOS leaders in Maswa district who are responsible for this embezzlement should be brought to justice as soon as the audit process is completed.

“We call for action against all those involved in the sabotage of government funds, many farmers have been losing their rights due to theft done by few people we trusted, so we ask for an investigation to be conducted and the perpetrators to be dealt with,” he said.

Simiyu Regional Agriculture and Production Officer, Ms Kija Kayenze said through the Simiyu region’s five-year strategy for cotton production, the region hopes to increase cotton production productivity from 200 kg to 600 per acre to the regional plans which are 1000 kg or more per acre.

Kayenze said the region has established a formal system for data collection and record-keeping of cotton farmers called ‘Agriculture Development’ which will enable farmers to register with the Basic Cooperative Societies (AMCOS), sell their cotton online and get all inputs from retailers of input.

“The framework is part of the implementation of a five-year strategic plan for the cultivation of cotton crops prepared by the Region in collaboration with stakeholders, with the aim of improving cotton farming, while urging Agriculture and Cooperative Officers to fulfil their responsibilities,” she said.