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Reprieve for urban farmers

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THE Bulawayo City Council has given a reprieve to urban farmers, rescinding a decision to destroy crops planted on illegal sites following a meeting on Wednesday.

BY TALENT GUMPO/ KHANYILE MLOTSHWA

A full council meeting overturned the recommendation by its environmental management committee to slash the maize crop after a majority 18 councillors voted for the reprieve.

Ward 9 councillor, Charles Moyo moved that the local authority reconsider its policy of cutting down residents’ maize crops.

“We have been through a lot of droughts and, this year, we just received abundant rains.

“I am requesting that we overlook and set aside the resolution made by the committee here,” he argued.

Moyo was supported by ward 17 councillor, Ephraim Ncube, who said the local authority needs to take into consideration the poverty situation in the city.

“Given the poverty situation and hunger in most families, we should be thankful for the abundant rains,” he said.
The motion was supported by other councillors, who argued that most urban cultivation was done by poor women, who are running households on shoe-string budgets.

“The people, who are mostly involved in urban farming are not part of the people benefiting from government handouts,” he said. “What will happen is that, if we cut down their maize, they will continue going hungry and poor. I am a people’s councillor. My request is that; let us not cut down the people’s crops,” Ward 22 councillor, Rodney Jele said.

But Ward 8 councillor, Shilla Musonda said urban farming could encourage crimes, such as rape, murder and theft.

“People are growing crops even on soccer fields. The other time I was called to intervene in a case where an old woman was cultivating on a soccer ground and threatening some boys, who wanted to play soccer,” she said. Her argument was supported by Ward 3 councillor, Silas Chigora, who said the local authority had a mandate to protect law and order in the city. The matter was put to a vote and the local authority resolved to let urban farmers harvest their crops.

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