Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has once again defended the chaotic land reform programme boasting that black tobacco farmers are now producing more of the golden leaf than the white commercial farmers during the colonial era.
Responding to questions soon after delivering a public lecture on command agriculture at the Midlands State University main campus in Gweru, Mnangagwa said the tobacco production figures justified government's seizure of prime land from the white commercial farmers.
"There used to be a man called Ian Smith who used to rule this country. At the height of production of their tobacco they used to produce 200 million kilogrammes of tobacco," Mngangagwa told the impressionable crowd.
However, he was quick to admit that the land reform programme triggered the collapse of tobacco production.
"When we took the land, taking it back to its rightful owners, tobacco production went down below 50 million kilogrammes," he said.
Mngangagwa said production has since rebounded and they are now producing more than what white commercial farmers used to produce before independence.
"Now we are above 222 million kilogrammes of tobacco a year and this is produced by a bigger number than the whites who were doing it and the cake is now spread to ordinary families in the countryside," Mngangagwa said.
"You can see how the revolutionary party remembers the people".
According to figures released by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB), in 2014 tobacco farmers produced 216 million kg of the golden leaf with the country realising $684 million from the sales.
In 2015, the figure went down to 198.95 million kg of tobacco earning the country $584 million.
This year, industry experts have projected that tobacco production output will reach around 205 million kg.