Self enrichment our biggest enemy

HARARE - The president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, and vice president, Khumbo Kachali, announced a few days ago that they were both taking a 30 percent cut in their salaries with immediate effect as part of a broader effort to get their country’s budget under control.

Banda’s salary will drop from $5 000 to $3 500-a-month while that of Kachali will go down from $4 000, to $2 800. What an example they are setting for the continent — they have raised the bar very high.

The news of the voluntary presidential pay cuts in Malawi is worlds apart away from Zimbabwe where self enrichment by people in positions of power and authority remains the sport most practised.

Every now and again we get a glimpse into some of the things we all knew were going on in the frenzied 12 years of commercial farm seizures, but have not yet been exposed.

One issue came to light last week following an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission, concerning the 2009 farm mechanisation programme that took place under the auspices of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Four High Court judges, nine top police officers and a politician were allocated farm equipment and implements by a senior RBZ official.

The former RBZ official masqueraded as a war veteran and retired senior assistant police commissioner in order to acquire and distribute the farm equipment.

The ex-RBZ official, convicted of fraud and given a four-year prison term, is undoubtedly the fall guy.

Writing on an Internet newspaper comment link someone simply wrote: “sacrificial lamb,” in response to the conviction of the RBZ official, implying that many bigger fish should have been netted in this issue.

Strangely enough no one commented on the recipients of the farm implements being given out in the 2009 farm mechanisation scheme.  

With over 80 percent of our labour force unemployed, including an estimated 400 000 ex-farm workers and farm managers, surely we should question why they were not the ones being cited as the beneficiaries of the farming equipment?  

Instead we hear that educated, professional people, already gainfully-employed, such as High Court judges and top police officers got not only the seized farms but also the farming equipment.
 
This explains why we now have to import food from the same countries we used to export our surplus to just 12 years ago.

High Court judges, police superintendents and assistant commissioners are not farmers — ex-farm managers are farmers.

Thirteen years after land was re-distributed to people with political connections, it is tragic to see so many run-down, deserted and unproductive farms lining highways all over the country.  

Quoted in the Daily News a couple of weeks ago, Zanu PF‘s central committee member Shuvai Mahofa said: “I am realising that farming is a waste of time, there is a lot of money to be made in hunting.”
 
Saying that the new hunting licences and land seizures in the Save Conservancy had “freed Zimbabwe from these Germans and Italians”.

Mahofa said: “Business is very good and there is free money to be made out there. I am now in business and making money.”

Those three short but damning sentences summarise the end result of 13 years of land seizures and redistribution to people who were not farmers in the first place.

An audit of who got the farms and all the equipment from the RBZ and Zanu PF gave out would be most welcome, particularly if it came before the 2013 election. -
Cathy Buckle

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