Legislators yesterday quizzed Agriculture ministry secretary Ringson Chitsiko over equipment sourced from Brazil, saying it was being under-utilised and distributed in areas with no infrastructure or arable soils.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture chairperson Christopher Chitindi ordered Chitsiko to bring a report of beneficiaries of the equipment, which is currently being distributed by First Lady Grace Mugabe at her countrywide rallies.
Appearing before the committee, Chitsiko failed to give satisfactory answers on the criteria used to distribute the equipment, including tractors and irrigation machinery.
Bindura South MP Remigious Matangira (Zanu PF) said the equipment was being distributed in wrong areas where it was being under-utilised.
“The equipment was distributed to communal areas, old resettlement areas and A1 farms. Identification was done five years ago. Some of those sites were suitable then, but we should have gone back to do reassessment of suitability of the sites. There is need for re-deployment of the equipment,” Chitsiko replied.
He said the nation was facing a difficult year due to the El Nino-induced drought, adding maize would likely be imported from Zambia, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil and Mexico using the $200 million government recently acquired to buy food.
“Under livestock relief, $2,1 million will be made available through the Food and Agriculture Organisation. The ministry encourages farmers to de-stock so that they salvage value from their livestock before the cattle perish,” Chitsiko said.
The MPs also asked Chitsiko why Zambia had surplus maize when it was also affected by El Nino weather conditions.
He responded that this was due to serious farming in Zambia at commercial level.
He said there was lack of seriousness in Zimbabwe to finance agriculture, as well as irrigation support and availing inputs.
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, meanwhile, yesterday said there was need to synchronise investment laws and provide clarity on the indigenisation regulations in order to attract foreign direct investors.
Mudenda said this during a courtesy call by the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Haung Ping.
“In so doing, we will attract foreign direct investment as well as domestic investment. We also need to share the establishment of economic processing zones, and ensure legislation to establish economic zones is in place,” Mudenda said.
“The Chinese Ambassador is also keen on ensuring that construction of the new Parliament starts this year. I want to believe in the next two or three years, Parliament will be in Mount Hampden. Currently, we are congested. The National Assembly can take in 120 MPs, but we are 270. In Senate, there is no problem as they have enough space.”
Ping said there was need to expand co-operation between Zimbabwe and China’s legislature.