PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has given the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Settlement three seasons to complete the national irrigation programme meant to insulate the country against food insecurity.
He told attendees at former Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement Cde Perrance Shiri’s memorial service in Chikomba yesterday, that if Zimbabwe manages to put between 350 000 and 400 000 hectares under irrigation, there will be no need to import grain.
Midway through his speech, President Mnangagwa asked Cde Shiri’s successor Dr Anxious Masuka and his Permanent Secretary Dr John Bhasera not to betray the legacy left by the late agriculture minister.
“When we were doing Command Agriculture with Cde Shiri, we agreed that there was no need for the country to be importing food and we agreed with Cde Shiri to do computations on the land we need to put under irrigation.
“We found out that if we achieve a minimum of 350 000 hectares under irrigation, we are guaranteed that regardless of whether it rains or not, we will have enough food in the country,” said President Mnangagwa.
He promised that the project would be implemented to honour the late national hero who had a full understanding of what this country needed to become an upper middle income economy.
“This is the programme Perrance was pursuing and this is the programme Minister Masuka and his two deputies are continuing to pursue. They must do it within the next three seasons, they must have reached the target for this country to finally say goodbye to hunger.
“If we achieve that we will have irrigation that allows us to grow the food we need, year in, year out from maize, wheat and soyabeans. There are many programmes they are doing but each programme has a timeline. I am saying to Minister Masuka, I am telling the country that I am counting on you to deliver what I am promising people. If it fails, it means you would have slept on the job and I do not work with sleepy people,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa urged the incumbent Cabinet Minister to serve the country with the same impeccable work ethic shown by Cde Shiri whom he described as a hands-on Minister.
“Under my administration I was pleased to appoint Cde Shiri as a Minister of Government in charge of the then Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement. That appointment was strategic as I had worked with Cde Shiri when I was in charge of the food security and nutrition cluster when we implemented Command Agriculture.
“Together we traversed the entire country, galvanising our people to be productive and make them understand that food security was first in line towards the attainment of peace and sustainable economic development. He understood the vision and this enabled him to quickly implement and pursue with utmost vigour the various programmes under his ministry,” said President Mnangagwa.
Cde Shiri who died in July last year, dedicated his life to serve the people, in different capacities, from a tender age of 18 until his death.
Besides the ministerial work he did, Cde Shiri had a strong affinity towards communities especially in areas he operated from during the liberation war, noted the President.
“Cde Shiri loved Mashonaland Central and wanted to uplift the province, I know he was in the process of building seven schools with his friend Vice President Chiwenga. I am glad to hear that one of the schools is complete. I implore Vice President Chiwenga to see through the projects, if he needs support we are ready to assist. Cde Shiri promised the schools to the people and we have to deliver. He said he wanted to install an irrigation system at his homestead and I have instructed Minister Masuka to bring the idea to life. I want to hear of progress,” added President Mnangagwa.
The President reminded his Ministers of servant leadership -a trait largely attributed to Cde Shiri- saying there is need to put people first whenever they execute their duties.
Born Bigboy Benjamin Samson Chikerema on January 11 1955, Cde Shiri assumed the non-de-guere Perrance Shiri when he joined the liberation struggle in 1973.
He earned his stripes as a dedicated liberation fighter and decorated commander who served in the Zanla High Command.
After Independence, Che Shiri was attested into the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, rising to the rank of Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, before his appointment to serve as Minister in charge of Agriculture under the Second Republic.
VP Chiwenga, Cabinet Ministers and family members of the late national hero attended the memorial.
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