Bulawayo City Council has indefinitely suspended the slashing of maize following political pressure from Zanu PF who accused the local authority of “inhuman behaviour”.
It also emerged that in Makokoba — the constituency led by MDC-T vice-president, Thokozani Khupe — a maize crop planted in areas designated for farming had been slashed.
Zanu PF last week condemned the slashing of maize but the local authority defended its stance saying it was acting according to the city’s by-laws.
However on Friday, Bulawayo deputy mayor Amen Mpofu told NewsDay councillors had decided to suspend the slashing of maize on Wednesday last week.
He conceded that in some instances, those responsible for slashing the maize acted inhumanely by slashing the crop that was at tasselling stage.
“We have to change our way of doing things,” said Mpofu.
“When people cultivate where they were not supposed to and we let the maize grow, only to slash it at the maturity stage is inhumane. The councillors must be involved on the matter. They are supposed to engage those residents who planted crops in undesignated areas and tell them that it is not allowed. We suspect there was a hidden agenda on the part of people who went to Makokoba and slashed maize crops in areas designated for farming.”
However, Mpofu blasted Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo and Agriculture minister Joseph Made respectively for attacking local authorities over the slashing of maize grown in undesignated areas.
He said both ministers were part of the same government that four years ago totally banned urban farming that they were now defending.
“We run council according to the by-laws but because of some politicians people start to attack those laws. I am shocked that the two ministers appeared on television last week making a lot of noise yet they are the same people who banned urban farming four years ago,” said Mpofu.
“When someone is sinking politically they tend to balance by holding on to a snake to keep above the water but their drowning is inevitable.”
Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial executive led by chairman Isaac Dakamela last week toured some areas where maize had been slashed. The former ruling party condemned the slashing, a development seen as an attempt by Zanu PF to gain political mileage.
Zanu PF has never won a single parliamentary seat in Bulawayo for the past decade.