Former Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono says beneficiaries of the Farm Mechanisation Programme were not required to pay back anything as the programme was not a loan scheme.

“I come as the man who was in charge of the RBZ during the most trying period in our history and as a man who was at the centre of trying to keep the economy going.

“I can state categorically that Dr Magaisa is offside and that no beneficiary of the farm mechanisation programme ever refused to pay for the equipment that they got and neither were they asked to pay.”

Dr Gono said in a statement this position was arrived at after consultations with Government which took the decision and wrote to him that equipment given to farmers during that most trying period should not be regarded as a loan to anyone and, therefore, no payment was to be made by the beneficiaries of the programme, who included A2 and A1 farmers.

He said the programme was undertaken in terms of the standing provisions of the RBZ Act at the time, which compelled the Apex Bank to carry out quasi-fiscal activities at the request of Government.

“The RBZ undertook this quasi-fiscal activity at the behest of Government and in the national interest.

“This was done in accordance with the then Section 8 of the RBZ Act Chapter (22:15) which authorised State to direct the Central Bank to carry out transactions in such a manner as the State may require and if so requested by the State, the Bank was to make the necessary arrangements to this end.”

“Both rural and non-rural farmers benefited from the takeover of the loans by the State but I shall elaborate. There was no scandal here, no corruption and no beneficiary refused to pay. The State did not demand payment and that was above board.”