The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube in Lupane
THE Government has come up with a tillage programme where tractors will be dispatched through the District Development Fund (DDF) to till at least one hectare per household to assist farmers whose draught power has been affected by drought.
This comes amid concerns that some Agritex officers were charging villagers about $10 per 10kg bag of maize seed distributed through the Presidential Input Scheme. The concern was raised at the Matabeleland North Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meeting held at Zanu-PF Lupane offices yesterday.
Addressing the PCC members who included Politburo, Central Committee and National Consultative Assembly members, the party’s Matabeleland North provincial chair, Cde Richard Moyo, urged Members of Parliament to identify needy villagers who lost cattle due to drought.
“Because of the drought that has led to death of many cattle, Government has tasked DDF to plough for people. We are going to launch a tillage programme where each household will be getting at least one hectare of land tilled. Tractors are coming and they will be doing between 20 and 30 households per day. As MPs lets go and mobilise farmers in preparation for this,” said Cde Moyo.
He called for transparency in selection of beneficiaries. About distribution of inputs, PCC members alleged that beneficiaries were being made to pay before they collect their share of inputs which include maize seed, fertiliser and chemicals. The inputs are delivered to the Grain Marketing Board depots from where they are dispatched to various districts and wards. They are monitored by Agritex officers.
“In terms of inputs, we have a challenge where Agritex officers are making people to pay. As trucks get to the destination Agritex officers who are the secretariat to the inputs distribution make people pay $10 per 10kg bag of seed,” said Cde Joseph Moyo, a war veteran.
However, Ndimimbili ward Councillor Fortune Ndlovu said the money was for transport.
“Trucks are not reaching intended destinations hence people are made to pay for the difference. In my ward they offloaded the inputs at Gomoza and we had to look for transport from Manoti in Gokwe and villagers paid $2 each while I topped up with $600 for transport,” he said.
Another member from Jambezi in Hwange District said beneficiaries were also being made to contribute for fuel so that the inputs can reach their areas. Cde Moyo who is also Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs said he will look into the issue.
“We will engage Agritex because I think Treasury paid for transportation of the inputs hence no one should be paying,” he said.
This is not the first-time concerns have been raised about people being made to pay for inputs and grain distributed through Government programmes. A fortnight ago legislators who attended the 2019 pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls expressed concern that some beneficiaries were remaining with nothing after paying for transport using the same grain or seed they would have been allocated.
During the week, Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff, Quarter Master Staff, Major General Hlanganani Dube told traditional leaders at the 2019 Provincial Commemoration of the Traditional Leaders’ Day in Hwange that the army had availed its trucks to assist beneficiaries of inputs and grain schemes.
The PCC was organised to launch a fundraising campaign ahead of the party’s 2019 National People’s Conference to be hosted by Mashonaland East in Goromonzi from 10 to 15 December. According to a circular from the party’s head office, each province is expected to raise $500 000, five head of cattle, five tonnes of mealie-meal, among other goods.
The province raised $40 000 through contributions by members yesterday while the provincial chairman said letters of appeal had been sent to well-wishers and various stakeholders to ask for donations. Seven buses have been availed for the province while accreditation of members is set to start this week.
Cde Moyo said funds had been availed to finish up capital projects in the province. He said five boreholes will be drilled while 20 will be rehabilitated in each constituency. Women’s clubs that ventured into bread making projects will soon start work following delivery of 18 tonnes of flour to the province, he said.