via Angry farmers detain Zanu-PF chefs | The Herald December 13, 2014
zanu-pf Central Committee member Cde Absolom Sikhosana was on Thursday detained overnight by angry farmers, while national director for youth affairs Cde Tapiwa Zengeya was force-marched from the Willowvale industrial area to the party’s headquarters as farmers demonstrated against a company jointly-owned by Zanu-PF youth wing and Lasch Investment for failing to deliver inputs.
Over 15 000 farmers might have been duped of varying amounts of money they contributed to the company with the promise that they would get farming inputs this season.
Cde Sikhosana confirmed spending the whole night on Thursday detained by farmers at Cold Storage Company, before Cde Zengeya was detained after coming to rescue his colleague.
Said Cde Sikhosana: “I was detained by farmers on Thursday night after I had gone to explain the situation. Farmers said I was supposed to spend the night under harsh conditions so that I could understand their plight. When I tried to drive away, the farmers mobbed my car and blocked me until 4am,” he said.
“We cannot pay back farmers their money. The project relies on membership subscriptions and have since been exhausted. All along the management was trying to get support but it has not materialised. The scheme is unable to provide inputs because it has run out of money,” he said.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, yesterday confirmed that the farmers reported a fraud case, while Cde Sikhosana reported a kidnapping case.
“Police are investigating a fraud case while Cde Sikhosana made a kidnapping report,” she said last night.
The $2,4 billion input scheme was launched in July by former Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa with Economic Planning Minister, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, blessing the first distribution of the inputs at the Cold Storage Company premises in Harare.
Cde Zengeya was detained till late last night yesterday at the party headquarters as farmers refused to release him.
They wanted either to be given the inputs or their money back paid as joining fees and insurance cover.
The angry farmers said they had been waiting for the inputs from Lasch Investments for the past three months, but the management kept on giving empty promises.
Some farmers had been camping at the company’s headquarters at the Cold Storage Company premises, waiting for the inputs while the company officials kept on changing goal posts.
Farmers complained that Lasch Investments management had bought cars and expensive phones using their money.
Chegutu farmer, Mrs Liziwe Museredza, said Lasch Investments had taken farmers for a ride by using ruling party’s name to dupe them.
“We paid $36 joining fee,$5 for Agritex stamp and every farmer paid insurance depending on the hectarage. For a farmer to get $3000 worth of inputs, he or she had to pay $342 for insurance,
“The season has already progressed and we cannot get satisfactory answers from Lasch Investments and we appeal to President Robert Mugabe to intervene or we will not be able farm again,” she said.
Another farmer, Mr Clifton Chibhoyi, said he had not subscribed to the input scheme but had been duped by Lasch Investment that took inputs worth $14 000 and did not pay him.
“I had delivered maize to GMB and opted to get seed as payment. Officials from Lasch Investments approached me and took my seed promising to pay me the $14 000 and now I have realised I had been duped. I have travelled several times to the company premises but they keep on promising that they will pay me,” he said.
Cde Zengeya who is the co-director of the Joint venture, yesterday confirmed that Lasch Investments had bought cars with the money paid by farmers.
“The challenge is that we are not able to pay farmers immediately as the money was used to buy cars for management, stationery and inputs for horticultural farmers.
“The cars are not more than six and were meant to make mobility easier,” he said.
Mr Zengeya said Lasch Investments was still in the process of pursuing a $3 million loan from CBZ bank and the company had approached the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development for a guarantee.
There were rumours yesterday that CBZ had refused to grant the company the $3 million since Mr Nelson Mahupete whose former company, Nelmah Holdings duped farmers in 2012, is one of Lasch Investments’ top management officials that owed the bank.
Recently, Cde Sikhosana attacked Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Cde Joseph Made for raising concern over the Lasch Investment inputs scheme at the 6th Zanu-PF national people’s congress.
Cde Made had raised concern over the input scheme after many farmers had registered their discontent with the company for failing to deliver.