ACTING PRESIDENT Kembo Mohadi yesterday claimed that he cheated death twice when an aircraft in which he was a passenger failed to negotiate a stormy weather on his way to Beitbridge.
By Rex Mphisa
Mohadi did not disclose the exact location of the mishap, but indicated that he was later picked up by an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter to complete his journey.
The Acting President said pilots managed to land the initial aircraft and they were stuck for two hours before another futile attempt to fly.
He could not disclose the details of the aircraft he was using.
“That is why I am late and I want to apologise for coming to meet you late. It is our culture to ask for forgiveness and I am sorry I made you wait,” Mohadi said to senior government officials, chiefs and headmen and Zanu PF Matabeleland South leaders at a briefing before he officially launched the Presidential Agricultural Inputs Scheme.
Mohadi later repeated his claims when he addressed about 1 500 mostly Zanu PF supporters people gathered to meet him at Lutumba Grain Marketing Board Depot, where the scheme was launched.
“Another aircraft was dispatched to pick me, but now I am here,” he said.
He said the free seed handouts, a brainchild of former President Robert Mugabe, were expected to benefit 1,8 million households nationwide and should be distributed across the political divide.
Beitbridge, once a stronghold of Zanu PF, has been invaded by MDC Alliance, which swept all urban local government seats and went on to beat President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Beitbridge East.
The revised distribution will now be done according to the agro-ecological regions following rainfall patterns of particular areas, with those in semi-dry areas getting drought-resistant grains.
Mohadi challenged farmers in low-rainfall areas to embrace short-season and drought-resistant grain crops, mostly small grains.
He said traditional farmers should lead the process.
“For farmers from this part of Zimbabwe, who for too many years have toiled under the brutal sun without much success, this day brings new hope,” he said.
“Let’s agree with what our situation demands. Let us accept that we are in a low rainfall area, where small grains do well. We must not be stuck in the past and hope maize will one day be successful under natural rains.”
Farmers must change their mind-set, he said.
Mohadi said the agricultural inputs were meant to improve food security in the homes and to ensure Zimbabweans were well fed.
He said the government was this year better prepared than before in terms of inputs.
Speaking at the same occasion, Lands, Agriculture, Resettlement and Water Affairs minister Perrance Shiri said several branches of command agriculture would be extended to all rural areas.
He urged farmers to repay loans extended to them under the scheme to avoid straining government coffers.