BY RICHARD MUPONDE
DOUGLAS Mwonzora’s MDC-T MPs are demanding that the Zanu PF government should allocate them farms, accusing the ruling party of partisan land redistribution that excluded them.
The demand was made to Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka when he appeared before the Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena-chaired Parliament Portfolio Committee on Agriculture on Thursday.
MDC-T MPs took the minister to task over the distribution of land to ruling party members, leaving out members of the opposition.
Masuka was giving oral evidence on how the government intends to reshape agricultural activities in the country.
MDC-T MP Joyce Makonya asked Masuka to clarify reports that resettled farmers were being ejected from their land to pave way for former white commercial farmers.
Other MDC-T MPs interjected her, shouting: “Yes! We also want those farms.”
Their demand for farms came two days after the MDC-T, including Mwonzora and his deputies Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe, colluded with Zanu PF to vote for a constitutional amendment that gives President Emmerson Mnangagwa powers to appoint judges without subjecting them to public interviews as demanded by the Constitution adopted in 2013.
Mwonzora has been accused of working with Zanu PF to decimate the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
He, however, denies the allegation.
Chikonya also grilled Masuka on the transparency of the land reform programme and how the 99-year farm leases were being handled by the government.
“The 99-year lease issue has not been clear and if those MPs in this committee do not understand what is going on and even after applying for the lease agreements, they still have nothing,” Makonya said.
“What about those who are out there in communities. Have you as the government spread the information on the status of the 99-year leases to the people? We recently heard that farms were being given back to the white people,” she said, adding “black farmers on resettled land were anxious the government would evict them soon.”
However, Wadyajena retorted that the MDC-T’s policy on land was that no party member should benefit from the land reform.
“Minister, the burning issue here is that MDC’s land policy in the past was that no one member should accept a farm from the government. Now … they also want farms,” he said.
“Give them farms when they come to your offices and treat them as citizens. Do not look at politics. They are citizens of Zimbabwe and want to engage in farming as well.”
Masuka also took the opportunity to announce that government had embarked on an ambitious plan to create one million jobs in the agriculture sector under the Structured Agricultural System, which will see holders of A1 and A2 farms being turned into entrepreneurs to reduce food imports.
“The 18 000 A2 farmers and 360 000 A1 farmers, if they become agricultural entrepreneurs, then they will be able to employ more people. It’s possible to employ up to one million people in agriculture. This will ensure improved livelihoods. It must happen as we journey to 2030,” Masuka said.