DROUGHTS have been the major cause of too much suffering on the people of Zimbabwe, with some actually having one meal per day, making their situation dire and unbearable.
Rains currently pounding the country have brought a sigh of relief to the general populace and Zimbabweans are now looking forward to a more productive farming season in order to feed both the nation and their families.
Zimbabwe could experience a productive farming season were it not for the inflated prices of farming inputs that are beyond the reach of many who have previously banked on the availability of the presidential farming inputs, now allegedly being abused by Zanu PF.
“We are looking forward to work and have a bumper harvest, but we cannot achieve our goals since we cannot afford to buy the farming inputs,” Maria Mangwe of Gokwe said.
Government in 2016 launched a US$500 million command agriculture programme under which it intended to produce two million tonnes of maize from 400 000 hectares of land, a move meant to ensure food security and to reduce dependency on imports.
But the programme designed to mobilise sustainable and affordable funding for agriculture so as to ensure food security and eliminate imports of food was allegedly abused by top government officials and the Zanu PF leadership.
The farming inputs also sparked controversy in Bindura South ward 6 where MDC councilor Gilson Chitakunye said the farming inputs were forcefully taken by Zanu PF officials who intended to distribute them along partisan lines, saying MDC members did not recognise Emmerson Mnangagwa as the President of Zimbabwe.
“I collected the farming inputs together with a Zimbabwe Republic Police officer and an agriculture extension officer, and I was supposed to distribute the food, but I was stopped by some Zanu PF hooligans who later in the night went on to steal the inputs and share them among themselves, telling us that we were not eligible to benefit from the inputs since our party does not recognise Mnangagwa as the legitimate leader,” Chitakunye said.
Food insecurity in Zimbabwe dates back to the time of British colonialism despite the country being touted as the breadbasket of Southern Africa.
But it was the late former President Robert Mugabe’s “attempt” to redress what he said were colonial land pattern injustices through a chaotic and violent land reform, which started in 2000, that worsened the food security situation in the country, in the process transforming it from being Southern Africa’s breadbasket to a nation dependent on food aid.
The 2008–2009 drought compounded an already bad situation, and forced about three million citizens to depend on donor food aid.
Villagers in most rural areas were not spared the wrath of the drought and according to the MDC, Zanu PF has taken advantage of the situation to reorient citizens’ thinking.
But Zanu PF Chief Whip Pupurai Togarepi poured cold water on the allegations.
“It is not true that our party abuses command agriculture inputs and food aid. The inputs and food aid are for every Zimbabwean. That talk of abusing these things is just cheap political talk from MDC. We distribute things in a fair manner,” Togarepi said.