Command Agric: OPC exposes Moyo

Source: Command Agric: OPC exposes Moyo | The Herald July 6, 2017

Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Cabinet approved the Command Agriculture Programme on July 20 last year, so the initiative cannot be reduced to fodder for succession politics, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has warned. The Cabinet decision, the office said in documents exclusively availed to The Herald, binds every Government minister who took oath of office.

It said Cabinet had been receiving updates and approving every stage of the implementation process since last year.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has been using social media to criticise Command Agriculture, bringing in successionist politics and alleging abuse of funds.

The OPC, which leads the implementation of the special maize import substitution programme, also said Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supervisory role in the project was outlined by Cabinet Circular Number 21 of 2016.

VP Mnangagwa oversees the Food Security and Nutrition and Value Addition and Beneficiation clusters of ZimAsset.

VP Phelekezela Mphoko, on the other hand, supervises the Utilities and Infrastructure Development and Social Services and Poverty Eradication clusters.

The OPC said Command Agriculture was one of the quick-win deliverables under ZimAsset’s Food Security and Nutrition Cluster and also captured in the goal: “Revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain” in President Mugabe’s 10-Point Plan.

First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe first mooted the Command Agriculture initiative at the party (Zanu-PF) level before Cabinet adopted it as a Government programme.

The OPC said the programme recognised Government’s “debilitating fiscal space constraints” and is aimed at ensuring food security and ending maize imports.

“Cabinet approved the Command Agriculture programme at its 24th meeting held on 20th July, 2016,” the OPC said.

“The programme focused on the provision of inputs and technical support to farmers with access to irrigation facilities as well as those on dry land. Apart from individual farmers, the programme also encompassed other public institutions and special services with land such as Prisons and Correctional Services, Defence Forces, Vocational Training Centres and ARDA. At every Cabinet meeting, VP Mnangagwa and, supported by the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Dr Joseph Made), furnishes Cabinet with updates on the performance of the programme,” the office said.

Former Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru used to chair the Cabinet Committee on Food Security and Nutrition before her expulsion from Government.

“As such, VP Mnangagwa naturally chairs the Command Agriculture programme,” the office said.

“At the technical level, the committee is chaired by the Deputy Chief Secretary for Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation (Mr Justin Mupamhanga), deputised by the secretary for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Mr Ringson Chitsiko).”

Mr Mupamhanga’s committee, as agreed by Cabinet on September 6, 2016, is assisted by an integrated taskforce of officials from the special maize production programme and grain importation and distribution logistics sub-committee.

He chairs the taskforce and is deputised by Mr Chitsiko and Air Force of Zimbabwe commander, Air Marshal Perence Shiri.

“The implementation structure is further cascaded down to provincial and district levels, with the main players being provincial and district Agritex officers,” the OPC said.

“For purposes of accountability, the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet chairs a high-level committee which monitors the work of the integrated taskforce. The high-level committee comprises the chairman of the Civil Service Commission and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as well as other critical stakeholders.”

The OPC said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was tasked with mobilising funds for the programme.

The Sakunda Holdings facility, the OPC said, was approved by Cabinet on October 3 last year “after due process by Government”.

Sakunda Holdings funded Command Agriculture to the tune of $192 million with $30 million of that amount going towards the Presidential Input Support Scheme.

Prof Moyo has also been targeting the petroleum giant in his diatribes wrongly stating that the firm was getting fuel duty-free.

It emerged that Sakunda Holdings paid duty for the 15 million litres of fuel used since September last year to date.

The OPC said given the prevailing financial and economic conditions, the only guarantee Government could provide to Sakunda Holdings on behalf of farmers was Treasury Bills.

Many banks have been denying farmers financial support reportedly because of lack of collateral.

The TBs issued to Sakunda Holdings are non-tradable and will be surrendered back to Treasury once farmers pay back what they owe.

The OPC said the TBs were under the custodianship of Sakunda’s nominated banks, CBZ and EcoBank.

“A point to note is that both Treasury and RBZ have mechanisms to monitor the status of the Treasury Bills issued in line with terms and conditions,” the office said.

A Government official yesterday said it was insane for Prof Moyo to claim the TBs had been traded.

“Sakunda has gone where angels fear to trade,” said the official.

“The company took all the risks and supported Government. On the alleged trading of TBs, there is no development in the monetary sector which escapes the eagle eye of the Reserve Bank, less so where huge amounts are involved. You cannot tamper with such huge amounts undetected by monetary authorities.”

According to the OPC, Government issued TBs worth $110 million while $50 million was collateralised through resources under NOCZIM Debt Redemption Fund.

Added the Government official: “It is ironic that a person who purports to be reading law seems unaware of the principles of contract. The principle parties with regard to the programme financing through Sakunda are Government, the Grain Marketing Board and beneficiary farmers and not names the professor is throwing around.”

The Government official said contrary to assertions by Prof Moyo, Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme were inseparable.

“It’s foolhardiness for anyone to separate a programme which is integrated by intention, source of funding and source of securitization,” said the official.

Prof Moyo has been drawing his arguments from a “report” he claims is from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development’s public debt management office.

“The trouble with the ‘learned professor’ is that he confused a cautionary advisory note by some junior officers for a descriptive evaluation document,” said the Government official.

“That document which he quotes from and on which fatally, he rests his case, merely flagged potential dangers. It did not describe occurrences, which is why its tone is conjectural. For all his professorial knowledge and in spite of the fact that he himself is a participant, the Minister confuses a code name of a campaign and relationships between actors.”

Prof Moyo is a beneficiary of Command Agriculture whose family collected inputs worth nearly $100 000.

Just last week, the Moyo family was requesting more diesel from officials administering the programme in Mashonaland Central for harvesting and delivering their maize to GMB.

To build on the success recorded this year, Government has already sealed another $487 million facility with Sakunda Holdings for the 2017-18 agricultural season.

Government has exceeded its target this year and more than 2,7 million tonnes of maize are expected.