11 August 2017

Zimbabwe: Ministers Grab $6m Govt Equipment Meant for Poorer Farmers

Photo: The Zimbabwe Independent
President Robert Mugabe (file photo).

Zanu PF bigwigs in Matebeleland South have reportedly side-lined A2 farmers and grabbed irrigation equipment acquired by the government from Spain under a facility worth over $6 million.

The first batch of the equipment which includes some 80 centre pivots arrived in the country in May this year with distribution and installation now underway.

Each of the country's ten provinces has been allocated eight centre pivots with first preference given to farmers who have adequate water sources and power supplies.

However, agriculture ministry sources in Matabeleland South told NewZimbabwe.com that the province has received two centre pivots which have been taken by top ruling party officials.

"The two centre pivots which the province has so far taken delivery have already been grabbed by Minister Simon Khaya Moyo and former governor and Zanu PF Bulawayo senator, Angeline Masuku.

"Irrigation engineers from the ministry have already installed the equipment at Masuku's farm in Matopos. The engineers are expected to install the equipment at Moyo's farm in Mangwe this week," said a ministry mandarin who would not be named for fear of victimisation.

The official said there were a lot of A2 farmers in the province who deserved the equipment more than the two politicians.

"Moyo and Masuku have benefitted a lot from previous government agricultural support schemes.

"As beneficiaries before, we expected them to give others a chance. We have got a lot of hardworking A2 farmers in the province who are clamouring for such equipment," added the official.

When reached for comment, Masuku was reluctant to discuss the issue, referring questions to command agriculture officials.

"Please direct all your questions to those that are in charge of command agriculture. They are the people in the know not me," she said before switching off her phone.

Moyo was also not forthcoming when reached for comment.

"I am afraid I do not know what you are talking about" he said.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made is on record saying the centre pivots should be installed at productive and "strategic" farms in the country.

Between 2005 and 2007, senior Zanu PF officials abused the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) farm mechanisation programme which was meant to benefit the poor masses. The central bank lost more than $200m under the programme.

Some of the chefs who reportedly benefitted from the scheme but failed to repay loans include the late former agriculture minister Kumbirai Kangai, former Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development minister, Olivia Muchena and former Zanu PF Chikomba East MP, Edgar Mbwembwe.

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