Vice-President Phelelezela Mphoko has slammed resettled farmers for failing to utilise the land allocated to them, saying the failure had put President Robert Mugabe to shame.
BY CLAYTON MASEKESA
Addressing businesspeople in Mutare last Thursday, Mphoko lashed out at the resettled farmers accusing them of failing to grow enough food to feed the nation.
Mphoko said the farmers were to blame for the shortages of maize-meal countrywide forcing Mugabe to extend a begging bowl to neighbouring countries.
“It’s true that the resettled farmers have failed us. They have put to shame our President. President Mugabe is being verbally abused everywhere because of the failed land resettlement,” he said.
“President Mugabe is now being forced to beg for food from neighbours. We were once the breadbasket of the region, but these farmers have destroyed the agriculture sector. We should re-look at this and come up with solutions,” Mphoko said.
“Our President is a busy man and he is now the chairman of AU but, you farmers are now making it a tall order for President Mugabe to go to neighbouring countries to plead for maize assistance in this day and age when these people were given productive land,” he said.
“Why are you (resettled farmers) putting to shame our President?
“He gave you land so that you empower yourselves and feed the nation but, now we are begging. This must stop,” he said.
Mugabe embarked on a controversial land reform programme in 2000 that saw him seize white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
He said this was important to correct historical imbalances in land ownership that saw at least 4 500 white farmers own the most productive land while the majority of black Zimbabweans remained landless.
But the programme triggered severe food shortages in Zimbabwe with the majority of the country’s 12 million people requiring food handouts from international relief agencies.
The agriculture sector is not showing any signs of recovery 15 years after the reforms began, as most Zimbabweans are still battling to grow enough to feed themselves.