PARLIAMENT has summoned Finance and Agriculture ministers to come and clear the air on why government has gone back on promises to pay tobacco farmers 50% of their earnings in United States dollars.
The tobacco marketing season opened last week with grumbles over the low price of the golden leaf at the auction floors.
Prices were pegged at $4,50 per kg on the first day, compared to $4,99 last year.
As if that was not enough to worry about, the central bank reneged on promises this year to pay growers 50% in foreign currency returns and the remaining 50% in real time gross settlement dollars (RTGS).
Goalposts were suddenly shifted when the market opened with farmers being told that all their payments would be made into their RTGS accounts.
The farmers were urged to write letters requesting that 50% be converted into foreign currency.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Wedza North MP David Musabayana requested that ministers – Mthuli Ncube (Finance) and Perrance Shiri (Agriculture) – come to Parliament to explain themselves.
“In that respect,” Musabayana said: “I am requesting the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Honourable Ncube to come and give a ministerial statement with regards to why he went back on his word on the promises that he had made to the farmers.
“In the same vein, I am also requesting the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Development to come with a ministerial statement in terms of how the prices of tobacco have gone down, whether he has carried out an investigation or if he is going to put any measures in place to ensure that farmers will not lose the money to be earned from their tobacco.”
Leader of the House and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was tasked by the Speaker to ensure his colleagues came to Parliament to explain.
Zimbabweans are resentful of the unstable local currency whose value keeps on fluctuating with savings continuously being eroded.
Government has adamantly refused to scrap the currency in place of the more stable United States dollar as the anchor currency.
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