On Saturday the 3rd of November, the President launched his 2012 Agricultural Scheme set at 20 million US dollars. According to news reports, this scheme is set to benefit 800 000 households countrywide who will receive agricultural inputs for the imminent season.
Is this a noble idea or not, we wonder. Some would say yes, but history has taught us to be weary of such schemes.
In 2000, Zimbabwe embarked on a chaotic farm invasion exercise which was bloody and ruthless and which resulted in land redistribution.
Since the land redistribution, people have been allocated inputs during the agricultural season. The norm however is that these inputs are never used for their intended purpose. In her speech on 15 October in Gokwe the Vice President, Joice Mujuru, is quoted as having said ‘Don’t go around selling inputs, generators, grinding mills and other equipment donated or given to you by government or farming partners. You should use these things to improve your lives and of those in your community.’ It appears, the selling of inputs is something that is known to happen, even by the Vice President, yet the process of allocating these inputs has not been adapted to ensure accountability by the recipients of how they utilise these inputs.
Since land has been given to the people, this scheme has existed; there is no certainty or transparency on who the recipients are; are they the same people who are allocated inputs each year? What criterion is used to allocate these inputs? If the recipients are the same, is it sustainable for the government to give free inputs to the same people, year in, year out? If it costs 20 million to give inputs to 800 000 households, is it not crucial to monitor their utilisation of the inputs to ensure that the beneficiaries become self-sustaining?
Maybe there are grounds for believing the rumours that in some constituencies political party lists are used for these allocations. How else would one explain the fact that it is known that people sell inputs, yet the scheme continues to exist, unchanged! Maybe there are other motives for handing out inputs.
One does not need to be an agricultural expert or a financial expert to know that Zimbabwe has been suffering from food shortages for years now. If so much money is spent on inputs yet shortages remain acute, should we not question where we are getting things wrong? One would tend to agree with the words of Prof Welshman Ncube when he said,
‘Zimbabwe deserves a party that will craft and implement clearly defined policies to develop the nation for the benefit of all. There is no country in the world that can expect the majority of the population to survive on hand outs from those that have amassed wealth at the expense of the ordinary citizens. Hand outs are meant to make the people dependent on those that are dishing them out, it is a strategy used by the manipulative politicians yet honest leadership will provide economic opportunities for people to develop.’