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Protect sugar industry, says MP

Local News
Chiwa made the remarks at the end of the media tour of Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe sugar plantations and mills in the Lowveld.

CHIREDZI West MP Darlington Chiwa has made a passionate plea to the government to come up with policies that protect the sugar industry as a strategic sector that may prop up sustainable development and economic growth in Zimbabwe.

Chiwa made the remarks at the end of the media tour of Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe sugar plantations and mills in the Lowveld on Friday.

Tongaat Hulett runs two operations in the Lowveld — Hippo Valley and Triangle.

He said the industry was functioning under the Sugar Production and Control Act of 1964 enacted under Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

“These are archaic laws that should have been changed soon after independence in 1980 to empower the majority and move with current economic trends,” he said.

Chiwa said the laws did not resonate well with the government’s Vision 2030.

“We appeal for a current sugar policy so that it is a strategic crop. How can we sponsor tobacco when people are starving yet the sugar industry can easily do better if given a chance with better policies?” he said.

“The sugar industry must be declared a strategic crop that cannot be affected by electricity load-shedding, among other incentives.

“We need policy changes, not political statements, so that our farmers are protected. We continue to appeal to the government so that the sector can help limit imports that are flooding our markets.”

Recently-appointed Tongaat Hulett chief executive Tendai Masawi said he was aiming at revamping the sector so that it regained lost glory in terms of production.

“My main task is aimed at increasing productivity through buying new equipment. If production is boosted, we aim to adequately supply our domestic markets and help eradicate imports that have dominated the economy of late,” Masawi said.

He said the sugar industry employed about 16 000 workers.

“We are the second largest employer after the government and help in paying taxes to the government,” he said.

Chiredzi Business Community chairperson Edmore Makovere said Tongaat Hulett had empowered local communities.

“Of course, Tongaat Hulett could have faced some challenges, but we are glad that they have overcome them. As the business community, including farmers, our partnership is growing for the better,” he said. The media tour drew editors and journalists from local and international news organisations across the country.

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