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Mnangagwa snubs duped farmers

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FARMERS allegedly duped millions of dollars by a Zanu PF linked company, Lasch Investments, yesterday besieged the ruling party headquarters in Harare seeking audience with Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the fate of their flopped agricultural inputs scheme.

EVERSON MUSHAVA
CHIEF REPORTER

Despite their concerted efforts, Mnangagwa reportedly snubbed them demanding that they present their grievances in writing at his Munhumutapa offices.

At least 500 furious farmers, some of whom had been camped in Harare since the beginning of December, were angry with the Zanu PF leadership claiming they urged them to join the scheme, but were now avoiding them at their time of need.

The farmers claimed that they visited Mnangagwa on Saturday at his Sherwood farm and presented their demands and the Acting President promised to take the matter up with President Robert Mugabe, who is on his annual leave in the Far East.

They claimed that Mugabe through State House director Dzepasi Innocent Tizora had promised to give them fertilisers yesterday.

But they were dismayed when they came and found nothing. This forced them to call newly appointed Zanu PF youth league leader Pupurai Togarepi, whom they claimed was snubbing their calls since morning.
After failing to access fertiliser against “a promise from Mugabe” angry farmers dispatched a 10-member committee led by Manicaland farmer Agrippa Lewanji to Mnangagwa’s offices at Munhumutapa Building demanding to meet him.

“The VP has asked us to compile our grievances and present them to his office,” Lewanji said.

This, however, angered other farmers, who besieged Zanu PF headquarters claiming they had written several reports since last September, but received nothing while the farming season was advancing.

“What is new that he (Mnangagwa) wants us to write? We sent the committee to Kwekwe and he knows our problems. He should come to address us since Pupurai is not picking calls. We are not leaving this place until the VP comes to address us,” one farmer said angrily.

Another farmer shouted: “We want the VP to address us,” said one angry farmer. “We joined the scheme because of the Zanu PF logo. They should come and tell us. They have made promise after promise and nothing has materialised.”

“When the scheme was launched, agriculture minister Joseph Made was here. Where is he now? He is Minister of Agriculture and he manages farmers. Where is he when we are here? Simon-Khaya Moyo (former national chairman), who was here should also come and explain to us if government is no longer involved.”

Lasch, a company owned by Zanu PF youths, entered into an agreement with farmers who contributed money to access farm inputs for the 2014-15 farming season. However, the deal did not materialise, forcing farmers, who had contributed over $2 million to demand their monies back.

Five Lasch executives among them Zanu-PF national youth league director Tapiwa Zengeya and Patience Chipere have already been arrested on allegations of defrauding the farmers.

Former youth league secretary Absolom Sikhosana was also recently detained him and force-marched him from the company’s headquarters in the Willowvale industrial area to the Zanu PF headquarters. Other directors are Nelson Mahupete and Evans Zininga.

The farmers yesterday claimed several Zanu PF top hawks were implicated in the scam and demanded that Zanu PF, which championed the land reform programme, should act immediately to provide the farmers with inputs so that they proceed with their farming activities.

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