Gwanda — President Mnangagwa launched the Command Livestock programme at Gwanda Showgrounds yesterday and vowed his administration would prioritise economic development and not politics. He handed over 660 heifers to 151 beneficiaries from Matabeleland South's seven districts.
They were comprised mostly of Brahman, Brano and cross Brahman breeds and are part of the 1 660 herd allocated to the province under the scheme.
President Mnangagwa said Government had also increased the funding of the Presidential Inputs Scheme from $30 million to $487 million as it moves a gear up to increase productivity in the agriculture sector.
"Those who benefited will have to repay after five years and we are confident that at that time we would have empowered a lot of our people as we seek to build our national economy," said President Mnangagwa.
"The Command Agriculture element is being implemented in regions based on their ecological systems. Here in Matabeleland South crops do not do well under the current climatic conditions and hence we have to promote animal husbandry and other related projects.
"In addition, a further 1 740 cattle will be distributed to farmers in Matabeleland North province soon. We are very grateful to our implementing partners who are in the midst of sourcing more cattle from regional markets."
President Mnangagwa said the initial distribution of the heifers was done in April at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
"When Zimbabwe is open for business those with eyes you can see for yourselves, what we are talking about.
"The most important lesson from the past is that of unity. Zimbabwe is a unitary nation and we should all remain united and never discriminate among ourselves. Let us remain as brothers, sibambene (united).
"As we move forward our mantra is economics and development and politics should take a back seat," said President Mnangagwa. He said the aim was develop the country for the benefit of everyone.
"We should develop every single household and to do so we must develop and to do so we must work together. So today here in Mat South work together for the Command Livestock to succeed.
"About four provinces cannot sustain grain hence we have to exploit resources which can help develop themselves and the nation."
President Mnangagwa said it was important for Government to put forward a programme for those who were willing to be empowered.
He said the Command Livestock initiative will cover those interested in piggery, fisheries, ruminants and poultry, among others.
The President added that livestock production was a step in the right direction since Government was in the process of reviving the Cold Storage Company (CSC).
"We are not financing this programme from the fiscus, but we got the money from the private sector which has renewed confidence in us while we develop our agriculture sector," explained the President.
He said Matabeleland South had a lot of water bodies which must be utilised to promote irrigation and citrus farming especially in Beitbridge district.
In separate interviews, the beneficiaries - most of whom were women - hailed the new dispensation for pursuing people-oriented policies.
"As a widow, I am very grateful to our President and the Government for this gesture. This will go a long way in empowering women and other members of the community.
"Prior to this development I had 17 cattle at home and am hopeful that in five years' time with this cross Brahman breed one will be having at least 50 head of cattle," said Ms Sukholuhle Nleya of Dombodema in Plumtree.