Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has expressed reservations on “planned” economic turnaround under the “Command” banner, saying such programmes do not work.
He said this in an exclusive and wide-ranging interview with our Harare Bureau last week. Government has over the 2016/17 summer cropping season implemented a Specialised Maize Production and Import Substitution Programme, better known as Command Agriculture, under a public-private partnership with Sakunda Holdings.
While that programme targets commercial production, the State, again in public-private partnership, also provided maize free inputs to households across Zimbabwe under the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme. Projections by both Government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation point to a maize harvest of at least 2,1 million tonnes against national annual requirements of 1,8 million tonnes.
The success of the State’s intervention has seen Government extending Command Agriculture not only to the next summer cropping season, but also applying the concept to other sectors like fisheries and livestock.
This has seen President Mugabe publicly describing Command Agriculture as “beautiful”.
However, last week VP Mphoko — who was at the time the Acting President — told our Harare Bureau he was not too enamoured by the concept.
First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe initiated the idea of Command Agriculture, and Cabinet — in which VP Mphoko sits — adopted it, with President Mugabe assigning VP Emmerson Mnangagwa to spearhead implementation.
Asked if Command Agriculture had Cabinet’s full backing following weeks of rabid attacks by Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, VP Mphoko said: “I don’t know how you want to put it. The (Command Agriculture) programme, I don’t want to put some of these words you are talking because I have never agreed with them. I have trained in the Soviet Union and I know what a planned economy is, but I am saying and we must be very careful not to distort our programmes. Because if you give a headline on a particular subject or a title to a book stick to the title, don’t distort it.”
VP Mphoko added that investors did not care about policy discord in Government as they were only driven by self- interest.
“In Zimbabwe there is everything here; you tell them not to invest but they want milk, they want fish they want gold, they want platinum they want all the minerals that we have here. Whether it’s agriculture or what the ministers say, those people are governed by their interests.”
VP Mphoko spoke strongly against factionalism in Zanu-PF.
“Factionalism will not help anybody, instead it will destroy you. You see what happens is that you cannot anoint yourself; you can’t do that. You have to be anointed not by someone. Go to the Bible and look at how King Solomon was appointed. David was very sick, he was very frail and one of his sons, Adonijah, slaughtered over 50 beasts and anointed himself, assisted by Joab, who was a general in the army.
“Joab and Adonijah were working together. In the meanwhile the reality happened, and David installed Solomon and those who had anointed themselves failed completely.
“Those are lessons you must learn. You must learn what also happened to others during the Mzilikazi era. People decided to install Nkulumane before they had established that Mzilikazi was dead and as a result of that, it failed.”