Poor citizens are subsidising the rich

HARARE - Does it make sense for government to pay an extremely generous $390 for a tonne of grain delivered to perennial loss-maker Grain Marketing Board (GMB), from the taxpayer’s pocket, and selling that same tonne to millers for $250?

In Zambia, that same tonne is going for $100 — nearly three times less than the heavily-subsidised maize producer price in Zimbabwe.

What could be motivating this harebrained support price?

There is method in this madness.

There are about 300 000 indigenous farmers who were given swathes of farmland seized from the former white commercial farmers. More than two-thirds of them are the elite in Zanu PF, with the ruling party’s supporters and sympathisers making up the balance.

Every minister in President Robert Mugabe’s king-sized Cabinet, including the Zanu PF leader himself, owns a farm. In fact, some of them are multiple farm owners.

That alone tells you that the poor taxpayer is funding the nouveau riche. But is it not criminal for conflicted men and women to sit together to deliberate on an issue of national importance that benefits them directly?

On account of being conflicted, the best thing to do would have been for all those who own farms to recuse themselves in such discussions and stand guided by the advice they get from experts in finance and agriculture.

In spite of Treasury’s precarious financial position, it is being bulldozed into wiring the heavily subsidised payments into the bank accounts of Zanu PF functionaries, who will then abuse their positions to get physical cash from the struggling banks, which they would spin on the black market to make more money for themselves, while the poor continue to wallow in abject poverty.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was last week quoted defending the support price as meant to enable farmers to remain on the land by paying a viable producer price while millers were purchasing the staple grain at $250 to ensure that they did not import grain, thereby saving foreign currency.

“If we do not produce enough maize in this country, the millers will have to import maize from outside Zimbabwe. They will spend between $800 million and $1 billion (a year) in importing grain into Zimbabwe and that is strengthening or paying farmers in other countries,” he argued.

With all due respect Mr Vice President, government has failed the people. If farmers in Zambia are doing well under almost similar circumstances as those prevailing locally, surely we should not be an exception. Why should a government that claims to be for the people penalise the taxpayer just to make a few people happy?

Something needs to be done to stop this abuse of the poor taxpayer.

Comments (2)

ndine mubvunzo kuna Ishe wangu makatondipindura matondigonera nevatori pano vanoda mhinduro

g40 - 28 September 2017

When you take farms from prosperous white farmers and give the farms to idiots that have no farming skills then the country will fall apart !! As it has.

Michael - 2 October 2017

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