HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsCommand Agriculture another looting avenue for Zanu PF

Command Agriculture another looting avenue for Zanu PF

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THE much-hyped government’s Targeted Command Agriculture is one such Zanu PF project that could face monumental failure due to abuse of agricultural inputs by top party officials.

NEWSDAY COMMENT

If reports by Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha are anything to go by, there is no doubt that the million-dollar project will dismally fail due to various reasons, but mainly corruption as top Zanu PF officials scramble for free inputs at the expense of the poor majority.

Zimbabwe has had State-funded programmes for the majority, but none of the million-dollar schemes have reached the intended beneficiaries as government officials divert State resources to personal use.

As if that is not enough, the past year has seen government pushing Parliament to approve laws that would make it possible for the taxpayer to assume the debts, yet the majority have never benefited from the various schemes.

This echoes State-backed schemes such as the Farm Mechanisation programme which was again abused by ministers and other Zanu PF elites at the expense of the majority.

We have no doubt that the looting of State resources by the ruling elites will continue for as long as President Robert Mugabe continues to dillydally instead of confronting corruption in top Zanu PF echelons head-on.

It is hoped that Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, himself a proponent of Command Agriculture, should exert pressure on his boss to right all the wrongs of the past.

Otherwise, it is foolhardy for Zanu PF to expect Command Agriculture to succeed when agriculture inputs continue to be looted.

To start with, the inputs arrive late to confuse the farmers, and, secondly, in some cases distribution of inputs is partisan and this means those who do not have Zanu PF membership cards are not allowed to benefit no matter how good they are in farming.

This is serious, and government should quickly deal with this issue – a blemish on an otherwise good State programme.

The fact that Zimbabwe has become a consistently hungry nation has played into the hands of the Zanu PF political elite who have cunningly created the lack, hence the introduction of Command Agriculture.

We believe that by so doing, the government is seeking to manipulate the people’s loyalty — notably in the vulnerable rural areas — ahead of the 2018 presidential election.

Is it not surprising that Zimbabwe has over the last 16 years been dependent on large volumes of international food aid in particular from the West despite Mugabe’s hatred of Western governments. This is an indictment on Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Hence, it is high time for Zanu PF to ensure agriculture becomes the most important economic sector again, despite the country being prone to intermittent drought conditions.

We call on Mugabe to decisively deal with corruption in both Zanu PF and government and let the ordinary people benefit from State programmes going forward.

Without transparency in the running of government-sponsored programmes, we have no doubt Zanu PF will struggle to win elections in less than 15 months despite good rains being received around the country.

If government had ensured Zimbabweans accessed affordable agricultural inputs on time, we have no doubt that the majority would have a bumper harvest or at least enough food to feed their families.

Zanu PF must self-introspect and empower the majority through agriculture and not introduce programmes with the intention of stealing from the public purse.

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