via Black farmers have let us down: Mavhaire 10 September 2014
ENERGY Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire has lashed out at newly resettled black farmers whom he accused of failing to grow enough food for Zimbabweans.
Mavhaire, who is also the Zanu PF secretary for land and production, said the black farmers were to blame for the shortages of maize-meal country-wide forcing President Robert Mugabe to extend a begging bowl to neighbouring countries such as Malawi.
“VaMugabe kuenda kunokumbira sadza kunyika dzakaita seMalawi, ivo vaMugabe vakati minda yose torai, taive tiri bread-basket tichitengesera dzimwe nyika isu asi vauraya nyika (Mugabe is now being forced to beg for food from neighbours. We were once the bread-basket of the region but these farmers have destroyed the agriculture sector),” Mavhaire told NewZimbabwe.com.
Mugabe embarked on a controversial land reform programme in 2000 that saw him seize white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
He said this was important to correct a historical imbalance in land ownership that saw at least 4 500 white farmers own the most productive land while the majority of black Zimbabweans remained landless.
But the programme triggered severe food shortages in Zimbabwe with the majority of the country’s 12 million people requiring food handouts from international relief agencies.
Although the agriculture sector is showing slow signs of recovery 14 years after the reforms began, most Zimbabweans are still battling to grow enough to feed themselves.
Mavhaire also took a swipe at the black farmers for shunning the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), preferring to sell their maize directly to private buyers.
“Most resettled farmers are selling their maize to private companies so that it is brewed into Chibuku (a local beer brew). That makes Zimbabwe a country of drunkards and lazy people . . . and they are the first to come knocking on the government’s doors during time of drought,” Mavhaire said.
“These farmers are forcing Mugabe to go to neighbouring countries such as Malawi, South Africa and Zambia to plead for maize assistance in this day and age when these people were given productive land,” he said.
Most farmers in Zimbabwe shun GMB because of its inefficient operating system. The GMB is supposed to pay farmers within 60 days of delivery but often takes months to pay.
For instance, it still owes farmers about US$1.7 million from last year’s maize deliveries. Private grain traders however pay cash on the spot.