Learn from history

HARARE - If a government controls farms in its country, then it controls food supply.

If it controls food supply, it controls the people.

Never is this true in Zimbabwe and making this complete control even more worrying is that all private grain imports have been banned by the ministry of Agriculture.

If this was happening at a time when we were growing enough grain to meet the needs of our population, the ban on imports would be understandable.

Then we could say that we are supporting our own farmers, products and are behind the “Buy Zimbabwe” ideal.

That however, is not the case because it is a shameful reality that 13 years after the government’s seizure of over 95 percent of privately-owned agricultural land, we import an estimated 80 percent of all the food we eat. 

Despite the majority of us having been to hell and back in the last 13 years, we seem unable to learn from history, even from our own very recent history.

How can we ever forget when soldiers and police manned roadblocks in 2006? Cars, kombis, buses, haulage trucks; none were exempted from the prying eyes of authorities who stopped and searched us and our possessions for maize.

We had our own maize confiscated from us at roadblocks because the government said only the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) could buy and sell maize.

Eight years later and just six months after getting back into majority power, it seems the present government is taking us back the memory lane.

Frighteningly, reminiscent of past rulings which left people hungry and fuelled the black market and inflation, the ministry of Agriculture has again directed that only the GMB can import maize.

Last time the GMB was given the monopoly over grain imports but they didn’t have enough money to buy the maize needed to feed 12 million people; they didn’t have enough trucks or railway carriages to move the grain in time and they didn’t have adequate weatherproof storage facilities even if they could get sufficient grain.

The only thing that has changed this time around is that now it’s not 12 million people reliant on maize meal every day but 14 million.

Subsequent to the banning of private grain imports, the Grain Millers Association (GMA) has begun ringing loud alarm bells.

In a position paper presented to government by the GMA said: “The milling industry is shocked and astounded by the decision to have only one trader to be privileged to be the sole supplier of grain to Zimbabwe via GMB, supplying from one country, for onward distribution to more than 14 million people and millions of different livestock.”

But this is not just about the GMB having total control, it’s about who is actually getting the permits to move the maize.

In their paper last week the Millers said: “The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe is deeply saddened to note the ministry of Agriculture has banned imports of grain but continues to issue massive import permits of maize meal to companies owned by senior politicians.”

The seriousness of this situation was put into context by the Daily News last week.

The paper said the milling industry needed 3 500 tonnes of maize every 24 hours to meet the country’s grain requirements but had only received enough grain in the last two weeks to feed the country for six hours and 50 minutes.   

Control and monopoly don’t work.

We know this from our own recent history when dictatorial policies made us to go to bed hungry.

Comments (2)

An excellent article

Mpunity - 19 February 2014

luck me and my family,thats why I relocated to beitbridge, so that I will be able to smuggle the precious meal meal for my family when the need arise-

widzo - 27 February 2014

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