‘Learning nothing and forgetting nothing’

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The Cabinet

Paidamoyo Muzulu
The Cabinet said: “Farmers will receive funding for seed, fertilizers, chemicals, irrigation, electricity, labour, combine harvesting services and transport.”

Basically, farmers have everything guaranteed and the only expectation is for them to produce.

The statement further said: “Under a robust Agriculture Mechanisation and Tillage Services programme, four facilities are expected to deliver 3 127 tractors, 56 combine harvesters and 1 100 planters. AFC is offering tillage and harvesting services, while farmers will be able to hire a total of 245 tractors and 47 combine harvesters.”

In presenting this agriculture financing package, Cabinet’s primary concern was food security. It has been Cabinet’s concern since 2000. Yet, 22 years later, it is still far from achieving its target.

Cabinet did not give any background to State funding of agriculture since 2000 because it would have caused grim reading. The billions of United States dollars poured does not match the return.

It did not say anything about the US$200 million farm mechanisation programme introduced by then central bank governor Gideon Gono in 2007. The debt for the programme that brought tractors, combine harvesters, trailers, ploughs, boom sprayers and other accessories was later taken over by the State under the RBZ Debt Assumption Act. The beneficiaries were never revealed.

Why is Cabinet continuing with a failed programme? A programme that in nearly a quarter of a century has failed to bring meaningful returns to the country, except to individual beneficiaries who have their debts taken over by the State.

The answer is simple. This has been an election gimmick. Zanu PF harvests electoral votes from the farmers and their families each election season. These are farmers dependent on the State and have their debts written off. It is about elections and keeping a certain section of voters beholden to Zanu PF.

Voters, on the other side, are happy to have a government that cancels their debts. Many have joined the bandwagon of not paying their bills in the hope they would be cancelled on the eve of elections like what happened in 2013.

The combination of political leaders and voters who “learn nothing and forget nothing” is Zimbabwe’s crisis. It ensures the country continues getting the same party returned to power despite its obvious shortcomings. The electorate is refusing to change and voila, it plays into Zanu PF’s hands perfectly.