'Mugabe must reveal source of funds'

HARARE - Coalition parties have demanded that President Robert Mugabe explain the source of the US$20 million used to finance an agricultural input scheme the Zanu PF leader launched in Harare on Saturday.

Said to have been financed by “well-wishers”, the scheme is expected to give free agriculture inputs to some 800 000 households across the country.

But the programme, launched as parties get into camapign mode for crucial elections next year, appears to have cheesed-off Zanu PF’s rivals.

Senior MDC official and Education minister, David Coltart said Mugabe should reveal the identity of “well-wishers” funding the scheme, adding it was surprising the Zanu PF leader could raise such amounts
when the government could only find US$8 million for education this year.

“Zimbabweans have a right to know who the “well-wishers” are and where their money comes from. Is it clean? Parallel governance at its worst,” Coltart wrote on his Facebook wall.

“These are not small amounts of money. In context of total money allocated to education (US$8,1 million to date) this is a huge inputs fund.

“The source of the inputs fund may be legitimate but Zimbabweans will only know that if President is candid about its source.

“Transparency!”

Mugabe launched the scheme at his Zanu PF party’s headquarters in the capital, lending credence to claims by rivals that the programme was a campaign gimmick ahead of next year’s polls.

Zanu PF’s coalition partners accuse the party of skimming off revenues from Marange diamond mining to finance a “parallel government” as well as build a war chest for the elections.

Mugabe is insisting new polls must be held in March to end the shaky coalition government which he describes as unworkable and illegal.

And on Saturday, the Zanu PF leader was clearly in campaign mode, attacking the coalition administration and the mainstream MDC — which runs the Finance ministry — for failing to fund agriculture, the mainstay of the country’s economy.

He said: “This animal (inclusive government) wants to eat, but when we say the food comes from farming, the other side (MDC) says they are incapable, but the Zanu PF side continues to say we should farm, we
should get inputs.

“How is this animal supposed to survive? How is the nation supposed to survive? Are you (MDC) not getting this message?”

“They say we don’t have money, but they are the ones in charge of the Finance ministry.

“Hatina mari, hatina mari. Saka hatina mari, hatina mari, ihurumende yerudziyi?

“Hatina mari, naizvozvo hatina fertiliser, naizvozvo hatigone kurima.

“If it were a Zanu PF government without these other partners, do you think you can tell that to the people? A government can dare not say we have no money to give people to grow food for the country.

“We can’t say that. We must have the capacity even to borrow. No government does without borrowing from others.”

Zanu PF has accused Finance minister Tendai Biti of failing to help re-capiltaise the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) resulting in farmers failing to be paid for grain deliveries.

Mugabe also said fertiliser companies were threatening to “sabotage” the new agriculture season because they had not been paid for previous supplies.

“The fertiliser producers do not have the fertilisers (and) it is not because they are failing to produce the fertiliser, but they have folded their arms saying the government should first pay for supplies
that we gave it last year,” Mugabe said.

“They are saying we do not have money to continue production. Besides, if our credit has not been repaid, what good is it to supply more fertiliser? That is the way they have seen it.”

Biti has previously denied underfunding agriculture, insisting support for the sector has, in fact, increased over the tenure of the coalition administration.

Speaking at a pre-budget meeting in Victoria Falls over the weekend, Biti said: “Government will soon pay everything that it owes to farmers. Over the past few months government has provided US$52 million.

“As of today, we are have paid US$20 million to seed and fertiliser companies and by the time we present the budget on November 15, we would have paid everything that we owe. We have also given US$5 million to Agribank for this summer cropping season.” — New Zimbabwe.com

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