The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Biti Slammed for Starving Agric Sector

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has deliberately starved the agricultural sector of support to spawn food shortages through crop failure in a bid to abet the MDC-T cause, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo has said.

Dr Chombo was speaking at the installation of Abel Bhasera as Chief Chundu in Hurungwe at the weekend.

He said Minister Biti's actions were calculated to punish beneficiaries of the land reform programme on behalf of white former farmers.

"Takaenda tikanoti vaBiti-we tipei mari, vaBiti-we tipei mari yekutenga fertiliser, munongoziva hurumende yemubatanidzwa. Biti haaizvibvuma izvozvo. Ivo veMDC zveland reform havazvide.

(We begged Minister Biti for money to buy fertilizers, but he refused because his party is against land reform)," he said.

Minister Chombo said MDC-T's policies prejudiced farmers as supporting them would set them on a collision course with their handlers and financiers. He said all was not lost following the drought as families could borrow grain from the Grain Marketing Board and repay once they got a better harvest.

Minister Chombo said no one would starve as Government had put in place adequate measures to ensure food was available.

He implored people to desist from engaging in violence against each other, saying the forthcoming harmonised elections should be held in a peaceful environment.

Minister Chombo urged people to vote wisely and avoid the mistakes in past elections where urban seats were filled by councillors from the MDC-T.

He said the MDC-T councillors ended up pre-occupied with enriching themselves at the expense of service delivery.

Turning to the Chundu chieftainship, Minister Chombo explained that it rotates around the Mojo, Chipeperu and Tushera families and according to the law, the interim chief reigns for two years before a substantive chief from the next family in line is installed. This followed some resistance by interim Chief Pinky Chundu who was claiming he was the heir to the chieftaincy following the death of his father Wilson Murairidzwa Mbereu.

"Chieftainship is not inherited upon the death of the sitting chief," said Minister Chombo.

"It is not like a bed that you can leave for your child. The child or the cousin of the deceased can take the reins for about two years while the process of selecting a substantive chief from the next house in line is being finalised."

Villagers interviewed expressed happiness at having a chief after five years following the death of Chief Chundu.

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