Looting of agric inputs worrying

HARARE - Reports that top Zanu PF and army officials have been leading the looting of the State-sponsored $500 million Command Agriculture inputs are very worrying, given Zimbabwe’s history of another plundered agricultural fund — the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)-run Farm Mechanisation scheme.

The revelations, carried in yesterday’s edition of the Daily News, were made to Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa — who heads the programme — by Mashonaland Central provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha last week, reminding Zimbabweans of the chaotic land reform exercise of the early 2000s.

The ill-fated programme has been one of the major sources of the current food insecurity bedevilling the country, forcing Zimbabwe to drop from being the bread-basket to the basket case of southern African region.

While the senior Zanu PF and army officials were dipping their hands into the cookie jar, thousands of farmers were spending days on end without accessing the inputs government promised to provide.

Perhaps even more scaring are the prospects of who the ultimate funders of Command Agriculture will be. As with the farm Mechanisation programme, there is a real risk that the taxpayer will in the end pay for the looted inputs.

Those who benefitted from the scheme then — mostly high-ranking as well as well-connected individuals — have not paid back even a single cent.

The central bank only managed to recover funds for the farm Mechanisation programme through the controversial debt-assumption law.

There appears to be nothing new as most government programmes are hijacked by top Zanu PF officials, at times dangling these before the rural poor as their own for political expediency.

Looting has almost become a State-sanctioned practice, leading to the coining of terms such as “lootocracy” and “lootocrats”, while intended beneficiaries continue to wallow in abject poverty.

It is high time government comes out clean on its methodology in rolling out such public assistance programmes so that they benefit the intended people and cease to be feeding troughs for top Zanu PF and army officials.

State-run programmes must not be turned into feeding troughs of top politicians. The land reform programme, for instance, in the end became a mere travesty of what it was supposed to be with top Zanu PF officials and their relatives owning multiple farms, some of which have become derelict after being cannibalised of whatever valuables they had.

Production on the farms has fallen to catastrophic levels. The President Robert Mugabe-led Zanu PF has destroyed any trace of viability the Zimbabwean economy had in the past with high-level corruption gnawing at the very core of the country’s existence.

 

Comments (1)

Another disaster in the making, but maybe it was always intended to be?

citizen - 11 January 2017

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