President Robert Mugabe yesterday intervened to facilitate a loan with a local commercial bank to buy seed and fertilisers for hundreds of stranded farmers duped of millions of dollars by a Zanu PF-linked company in a botched agricultural input scheme.
The farmers had been asked to contribute money for inputs to Lasch, a company owned by Zanu PF youths.
But the company failed to deliver on its promise, forcing stranded farmers to camp for weeks at its Willowvale offices in Harare demanding the inputs.
On Wednesday, the angry farmers besieged Zanu PF offices and demanded an audience with Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
But the Vice-President ordered the farmers to present their grievances in writing to his Munhumutapa offices.
The farmers refused to leave the Zanu PF headquarters until they got the inputs, claiming that they were forced to enter the
deal because it had the blessings of the party leadership.
Former Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo, axed secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and Agriculture minister Joseph Made presided over the launch of the Lasch deal.
Mugabe yesterday dispatched Zanu PF Youth League secretary Pupurai Togarepi and party chief administrator Dickson Dzora to negotiate with the farmers.
Addressing the angry farmers at the Zanu PF headquarters after a two-hour meeting with Mugabe’s emissaries, Agippa Lewanji, who chairs a committee set by the farmers, said the ruling party had resolved to get a loan from the CBZ Bank to buy inputs for the farmers.
“The party has secured us (farmers) a loan to buy inputs. The farmers will pay back the loan to CBZ, while the party will make efforts to recover the farmers’ money from Lasch,” Lewanji said.
“I don’t know how much each farmer will get as Dzora and Pupurai Togarepi have gone to the bank to get the money. We will only get to know when we meet them at Lasch offices where they will bring the inputs later in the day.”
He said although the loan was a separate arrangement, only farmers who had contributed on the Lasch deal would get the inputs.
When NewsDay left Zanu PF headquarters, the farmers were busy forming co-operatives to be submitted to CBZ.
The farmers would source their own transport to ferry the inputs to their respective farms.
Mugabe’s intervention comes after the farmers visited Mnangagwa at his Kwekwe Sherwood Farm last Saturday.
The VP promised to take their grievances to Mugabe who then reportedly tasked his private secretary Dzapasi Tizora to find a solution to the problem which has exposed some of the shady deals in the ruling party.
Earlier before their problem was addressed, the farmers had threatened to lock up Dzora and Togarepi until the $2,4 million inputs under the Lasch deal were supplied.
They were also demanding to be addressed by the two.
Lasch entered an agreement with farmers where they would contribute money so that they accessed farm inputs for the 2014-15 farming season.
However, despite the farmers contributing over $2 million of their hard-earned cash, the deal failed to materialise after top Zanu PF officials allegedly looted the funds.
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.
Other directors of Lasch include Nelson Mahupete, Evans Zininga and former youth secretary Absalom Sikhosana.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo recently said all people implicated in the looting of the farmer’s funds would face the full wrath of the law.
The duped farmers have sensationally claimed several Zanu PF bigwigs were implicated in the inputs scam which had left them behind in their agricultural preparations by almost two months.