via Zanu PF-aligned firm fleeces rural farmers 27/11/2013 NewZimbabwe
A COMPANY owned by a Zanu PF activist is embroiled in a bitter wrangle with thousands of farmers countrywide over failure to provide them with inputs through contract farming.
Rural farmers allege Nelson Mahupete’s NELMA Holdings approached them in 2010 with a deal to venture into maize, beans and potato contract farming.
The company is said to have used district agriculture extension officials to ask farmers to pay subscriptions of US$32 per month for maize and beans production while those who wanted to venture into potato farming have been paying US$50 since 2010.
The farmers would then receive 400kg compound D fertilizer per hectare and 300kg ammonium nitrate fertilizer per hectare for maize farmers. Beans and potatoes farmers were entitled to 100kg seed plus 450kg compound L fertiliser and one tonne of Compound C fertiliser as well as seed and herbicides respectively.
But the firm reneged on its promise and efforts by farmers to recoup their money have drawn blanks.
“Over 300 commercial and communal farmers in Murewa district alone have been defrauded. Other victims straddle the provinces such as Manicaland and Mashonaland Central. We are owed inputs dating back to 2010,” said a farmer from Mutoko.
The wrangle has sucked in deputy president Joice Mujuru and Zanu PF administration supremo Didymus Mutasa with rural farmers alleging they had been told she had offered Nelma a US$10 million loan to fund the inputs.
“We were hoping that the scheme would pull us out of the vicious cycle of borrowing to finance our farming every year but the deal is turning out to be a hoax meant to fleece us.
“The company has become evasive referring us to Didymus Mutasa (Zanu PF secretary for administration) saying the party was handling the issue.
“We never dealt with these people we are now being referred to that is why we now feel we were duped,” another farmer alleged.
Contacted for comment Nelson Mahupete, Nelma’s executive director and chairman said he would only respond after hearing from information minister Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Supa Mandiwanzira.
“I need to consult with Professor Jonathan Moyo (Inforrmation Media and Broadcasting Services Minister) and Supa Mandiwanzira (Moyo’s deputy). That will settle the matter once and for all,” Mahupete said.
A week after the promise Mahupete now claims he is busy and would make time to meet.
“I am busy right now, I will call you for that interview as soon as I am free,” Mahupete said when pressed.
Nelma Holdings, also had provincial offices in Mutare that have since been shut down. The inputs scheme had also targeted members of the Johanne Marange apostolic sect through the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) fronted by Johannes Nyamwa Ndanga.
Nyamwa-Ndanga confirmed that he was approached by the company with a joint venture deal but said his organisation turned the offer down after receiving reports about the defrauded farmers.
“We did not go into any venture with them because we had received reports that they had failed to give farmers in Manicaland the inputs they had promised.
“They came to my office in the company of the spokesperson of Mutumwa Noah Taguta of the Johanne Marange church claiming to have been sent by him, but we did not take their offer,” Nyamwa-Ndanga said.
A background check on Mahupete shows he was at one time entangled in a fraud case that involving listed seed producer Seedco just over two years ago.
There have also been reports of selective allocation of the Presidential inputs scheme meant to benefit Zimbabwe’s rural poor.
Villagers allege the inputs are being given out along political lines. Two weeks ago police in Nyanga arrested several people including a breastfeeding woman following a violent confrontation over the farm inputs scheme.