EDITORIAL COMMENT : Assurances sow seeds of hope

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT : Assurances sow seeds of hope | Herald (Opinion)

President Mnangagwa

The process of sowing seeds of a successful 2020-2021 agricultural season starts this month.

The major focus will be on ensuring that by the end of September all agricultural inputs requirements are on farms.

Over the weekend, Government announced that agricultural inputs will be distributed throughout the country using the network of Grain Marketing Board depots.

The expectation is that the movement of inputs will be completed before the middle of this month, effectively putting in place the necessary ingredients for the success of farming operations during the forthcoming season.

Serious farmers must already be preparing their land ahead of the new farming season, determined to play their role in contributing to ensuring achievement of the nation’s internally anchored food security status.

In availing inputs coupled with the launch of various schemes such as Command Agriculture, Pfumvudza and Presidential inputs initiatives, Government is laying the foundation for a successful 2020/2021 agricultural season.   

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) announced last week that the country will experience early rains, starting with scattered rainfall in October, which would then become heavy rains in November.

The MSD also predicts normal to above normal rainfall, which could make for a good agricultural season if the farmers are prepared and have all the required inputs on the farm in time.

Earlier deliberate misrepresentations by unrepentant merchants of negativity were being celebrated as a reversal of the historic Land Reform Programme.

The premature celebrations were at what was interpreted as the humiliation and subsequently demoralisation of the beneficiaries of the land redistribution exercise.

The idea was that the ensuing uncertainty would in turn lead to an anticipated poor agricultural performance, whose outcome would embarrass the Government into importing food.

It was important, therefore, for the President to clear the air on the implications of July 29, 2020 Global Compensation Deed, which is a fulfilment of Section 295 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

It was critical that the farmers received the requisite reassurance that they should forge ahead with their cropping plans for the 2020-2021 farming season, focusing on ensuring the country produces enough for its requirements, with the potential excess going to exports. 

Addressing members of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) last Friday, President Mnangagwa, shamed the doomsayers when he declared that there was no vacillation to the Land Reform Programme

Purveyors of alternative news and opposition elements had gone into overdrive mode spreading alarm about, and potential despondency of farmers, resettled two decades ago.

These proponents of negativity sought to panic resettled farmers by spreading falsehoods that they faced prospects of eviction.

That kind of messaging had two devastating impacts — loss of land on which the resettled farmers have worked since 2000 and generally discouraging activity because of the uncertainty sown and being celebrated by merchants of doom.

President Mnangagwa’s message was unequivocal: “I urge all farmers to remain focused on preparing for a successful 2020-2021 season.”

Having cleared this confusion manufactured around the Global Compensation Deed, Government needs to show interest in what is happening at the Harare City Council.

The Government needs to intervene after the Harare City Council increased shop licence fees 300-fold, effective from September 1, 2020.

The basis for intervention is premised on at least four arguments; the first is that while the Government is promoting the policy that “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”, Harare City Council is doing its damned best to discourage this. This is counter-productive.

The second is that the council is divorced from current realities and whatever justification it summons, staggers the imagination.

The impact of Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses and the economy. Surely council should be alive to these realities?

What businesses require now are stimulus packages to enable them to find firmer footing, not being confronted with punitive licence fees.

The third point is that the effect of the increase in licence fees is that businesses unable to afford will be forced to downsize and in the worst case scenario will have to retrench or close — in effect, adding to the unemployment rate and general hardships of the majority.

The Government needs to intervene and put an end to this madness.

The fourth point is that apart from awarding its management hefty packages, residents have not seen and are not enjoying the benefits of council’s decisions.

There is no service delivery, from water supply, refuse collection, abandoned road maintenance and street lights, coupled with unattended burst sewerage pipes.

Council has reneged on its core mandate and since it does not heed calls from residents’ associations, there is a case for urgent intervention.