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Bleak future for communal farmers

02 Sep 2019 at 21:44hrs | Views
Communal and subsistence farmers in most parts of rural Zimbabwe are facing a bleak farming season due in two months as the military government has resorted to distributing seed and other inputs such as fertilizer and chemicals on party lines.

Farmers in Matabeleland South Province said they were promised seed but nothing has been forthcoming as only a few farmers were being given the seed on party lines especially Zanu-PF supporters while villagers affiliated to the MDC were denied the inputs and food aid.

Although President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the Presidential in put  scheme meant to benefit every communal and urban farmer, the situation on the ground was different as inputs and food aid was being channeled to Zanu-PF supporters and their immediate family members.

"Our hope now lies with some Non- Governmental organisations who have promised us aid and farming inputs, but they also have been cautious as party leaders were urging them to distribute inputs through party structures.

This might further dent our chances of getting inputs as those distributing the seed might only give it to their party supporters" said Mr Mutshumaeli Moyo of Valley Irrigation Scheme in Maphisa in Matabeleland South Province.

Farmers elsewhere in rural Zimbabwe have reported partisanship in the distribution of seed inputs and food aid where mainly Zanu-PF supporters were benefitting from government handouts at the expense of their opposition counterparts.

Media reports say most farmers will not be able to go back to the fields due to the partisanship in the distribution of these inputs as well as the high cost of seed and fertilizers.

Worsening the plight of the farmers is the fact that they are losing their livestock to drought as pastures are fast running out due to the dry spell, and although stock feed has been provided it was also being distributed on partisan basis.

Last month vice President Kembo Mohadi promised  the farmers that their herd will be saved through the provision of stock feed but farmers said they have not seen anything so far or if ever the feed came it was given to Zanu-PF supporters.

"This is where the significant part of where our livestock comes from and the government will do its best to save the herd," he said.

However farmers have sang a different tune alleging that it was mere politicking and grandstanding meant to divert them from real issues on the ground.

"The truth is we are faced with a bleak farming season our cattle a source of draught power are dying, we are hungry, and we have no food and we are not getting any inputs for the next season. We don't know where to start," said Thomas Mwale a young farmer in Makhado in Matabeleland South.

Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst droughts as most communal farmers had poor harvests last cropping season despite the government declaring success with its so called command Agriculture where millions of dollars in United States currency were looted by senior party and government officials.

As a result of the erratic food situation prices of the staple maize meal and other basic foodstuffs have gone up beyond the reach of many urban and rural populace forcing the military government to distribute maize on partisan basis leaving opposition supporters in rural communities with no means of income scavenging for food and basically living on roots and wild fruits.

Meanwhile calls by the opposition MDC to stage mass stay away to push for reforms and dialogue to fix the economic meltdown in the country have been met with stiff resistance by the government which resorted to intimidatory tactics as well as the deployment of the army and other security agents to block the mass demonstrations which were slated for the later part of August.

The courts were also accused by the international community for their partisan role in blocking applications by the opposition to go ahead with the demonstrations putting a damper on dialogue efforts to fix the ailing economy.

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Makho Precious, I write my personal opinions as a free spirit standing for human rights and space in society

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