In the past few weeks, command agriculture has taken centre stage, either with government officials putting on a brave face saying it will succeed or reports that inputs are finding their way onto the black market, where they are corruptly sold.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
The country has had several such schemes before, not least the ill-fated Operation Maguta, and it is not clear why the government insists on such programmes, which always result in failure.
Not to be pessimistic, the government has cultivated a culture of unaccountability, impunity and entitlement and as long as it prevails, farmers have no reason to pay back what they would have received as inputs.
Only last year, there was a storm over the State’s takeover of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe debt, as the Zanu PF-led government refused to publicise the names of people who had benefitted from farming inputs from the central bank.
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa may rail and rant at unaccountable farmers, but the government he is part of has cultivated this culture of unaccountability and it would be no surprise when his command agriculture initiative fails because of such.
Mnangagwa warned that government would soon embark on a scientific land audit in an effort to ensure that all farmers justify their continued occupancy of farms.
This is not a new threat and as long as results of previous land audits are not in the public domain, Mnangagwa may as well, be whistling in the wind, as no one will take his threats seriously.
What the government ought to do is to stop protecting people who have looted public funds in the name of farming and mechanisation inputs and instead ensure that they are prosecuted.
Instead of rushing to take over parastatals’ debts, the government should start fostering accountability by naming and shaming everyone who would have benefitted from and failed to pay back public funds.
All those that have corruptly benefitted should be prosecuted and efforts to reclaim the money must be pursued vigorously otherwise all government measures will come to nought, as they are viewed as quick-rich schemes, rather than for the nation’s benefit.
So Mnangagwa can grandstand and issue all manner of warnings, but the reality is that those that have benefitted and continue to benefit from the government’s largesse are not in any way fazed by his threats.
The government should stop dishing out fresh inputs without auditing what happened to the previous ones and naming all corrupt officials, otherwise command agriculture and any other such initiative are a waste of time.