By Simbarashe Sithole
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday failed to turn up at a the highly-anticipated smart agriculture conference held in Mount Darwin, which he had been expected to officiate for the past few months.
Mnangagwa had to assign Women Affairs, Gender and Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni to represent him.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Monica Mavhunga had a torrid time reading her welcome speech which she said she had prepared for Mnangagwa.
“We invited the President and he has come through his representative Honourable Nyoni, our speech was prepared for his Excellence since we were expecting him. So bear with me and I hope you take the message to him,” she said.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mnangagwa said productivity and utilisation of agricultural land has been hampered by climatic change and inadequate skills among farmers.
“This conference is also timely in the context of the unfolding concept of provincial economies, productivity and utilisation of agricultural land has been hampered by the adverse effects of climate change, inadequate skills among some of our farmers and constrained access to markets,” Mnangagwa said.
“As government, we are accelerating the mechanisation and modernisation of our agriculture. We are geared towards transforming the sector through broadening access to agricultural finance and inputs, promoting production and productivity growing of new seed varieties, enhancing extension services and infrastructure as well as developing markets for our value-added products to earn foreign currency.”
He castigated illegal settlers mushrooming around the country and urged the Lands ministry to act immediately.
“I am, however, deeply concerned about the illegal settlements which are mushrooming and adversely affecting land productivity, peaceful co-existence of nature and the environment throughout the country,” Mnangagwa said.
“This has also negatively affected water bodies as well as grazing land. I, therefore, urge the Lands Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement ministry to deal with this issue expeditiously.”
Mnangagwa in February also failed to attend his “Thank You Rally” in Mashonaland Central after reports of a poor attendance despite Zanu PF sweeping all legislative seats in the province.
Serious factionalism is reportedly brewing in the province with war veterans calling for the dissolution the provincial leadership amid reports of clashes between Mavhunga and chairperson Kazembe Kazembe.