‘Unite for command agriculture’
VICE PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has called on Zimbabweans to put aside their differences and unite to support the government-led command agriculture scheme in a bid to boost food security and nutrition in the face of recurrent drought conditions.
He said this at the fourth Annual National Agribusiness Conference at the Exhibition Park in Harare yesterday.
The conference was attended by Government officials, including Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Dr Joseph Made, his deputies, Cde Davis Marapira and Cde Paddy Zhanda, Minister of State for Harare, Cde Miriam Chikukwa, deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, farmers’ organisation representatives and business sector representatives.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister in the VP’s office, Cde Clifford Sibanda, VP Mnangagwa said successful agricultural performance would stimulate the agro-industry and create employment.
“I call upon right thinking Zimbabweans to invoke the spirit of patriotism and dedication to the welfare of the country by casting aside petty rivalries and joining hands in supporting this vital Government initiative. The initiative has a potential to restore food security and nutrition, generate income and improve livelihoods of all our people including those in the diaspora irrespective of gender, religion, origin and political orientation,” said VP Mnangagwa.
“It is an unassailable fact that successful agricultural performance in this great country will stimulate agroindustry, downstream industries, the services sector and employment creation among other benefits,” he said.
He said command agriculture was a national programme that had been occasioned by the declining trend in production and a steady increase in national food insecurity from an average of 12 percent in 2011 to as high as 42 percent in 2016 where as many as four million people are likely to be food insecure, according to the 2016 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Report.
Command agriculture is aimed at raising maize production and reducing grain imports. It aims to produce two million tonnes of maize on 400 000 hectares, 200 000 of them under irrigation.
This scheme provides support to participating farmers in the form of irrigation equipment, seed, fertilizer and agrochemicals, tillage and subsidised water and electricity charges among other things.
VP Mnangagwa said command agriculture runs alongside the Presidential Input Scheme which is expected to benefit 300 000 small-scale farmers.
“Efforts are already underway to mobilise resources — for the two schemes. Registration of farmers for command agriculture is taking place at local district level to allow for the proper assessment of farms with regard to capacity and potential. The equipment and machinery to be availed to farmers will be on a costrecovery basis as nothing will be free.
“To ensure the programme becomes a roaring success, I encourage banks and other financial institutions to be part of the programme. I call upon private and public sector players to partner Government under the PPP in this programme,” he said.
He advised farmers with seed maize to make deliveries to their respective contractors to increase the country’s seed stock. “I want to reassure all stakeholders that a transparent and corruption proof mechanism will be put in place to ensure sound administration of the programme,” he said.
Presenting at the same function, director of the Meteorological Services Department Dr Amos Makarau appealed to Government to consider assisting farmers in communal areas with tillage equipment as they lost their cattle due to the El Nino-induced drought. “Most farmers lost their cattle and do not have draught power. We appeal to Government to assist these farmers with tractors, not as individuals but as communities.
“Government should also ensure early disbursement of inputs to Midlands and Masvingo farmers as they rely on early rains,” he said. THE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association’s (ZNLWVA) bid to stop the election of new leadership took a new twist yesterday after the High Court threw out the application for procedural deficiency.
Only two weeks ago, the ZNLWVA successfully sought an interdict blocking six members of a splinter group — Cdes George Mlala, Charles Mpofu, Joseph Chinotimba, Esther Munyaradzi, Stephen Moyo and Robert Mukwena — from convening a special meeting to elect a new executive.
But, the other seven — Cdes George Matenda, Patrick Nyaruwata, Future Piriyana, Wellington Chitehwe, Rueben Chikono, Thomas Matambe and Thomas Kunaka — stood their ground, attacking the urgency of the matter and the inadequacies that were fraught in the urgent application.
After hearing submissions on the preliminary points raised by the seven’s lawyers, Advocate Garikayi Sithole, T B Ndoro and F F Hwenira, the court ruled in favour of the seven.
Justice Joseph Musakwa ruled that the deponent to the affidavit on behalf of the association Cde Agnes Siyakurima had no legal basis to institute the proceedings.
He also found the certificate of urgency to be invalid because it was “a mere rehash of some portions of the founding affidavit” among other inadequacies.
Justice Musakwa said the application itself was always lopsided on account of some incurable procedural deficiencies. “One gets the impression that the entire application was cobbled together with scant regard,” ruled Justice Musakwa.
“Therefore, the points in limine on locus standi, certificate of urgency and propriety of relief sought are sustained.”
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Mandi Chimene leads the splinter group as its interim chairperson. Her group is expected to convene a meeting to elect a new executive of the ZNLWVA.
Addressing war veterans, the women’s league members and youths gathered at the Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare recently, President Mugabe told the former freedom fighters to elect new leadership, if they so wish.
The call for new leadership in the ZNLWVA follows a vote of no-confidence on the Christopher Mutsvangwaled executive.
Mr Mutsvangwa was subsequently expelled from Zanu-PF after he was convicted of conduct that showed disrespect of the party leadership.
ZNLWVA secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, national commissar Francis Nhando and deputy chairperson Headman Moyo have since been expelled from Zanu-PF for indiscipline.
The quartet appeared in court facing charges of attempting to subvert the constitutionally elected Government. They are all out on $300 bail each.
They were arrested in connection with a damning communique last month urging President Mugabe to resign.
Mr Rungano Mahuni of Mahuni, Gidiri Law Chambers represented the ZNLWVA.
Rangers pull a sedated elephant, one of the captured animals at Mtshibi Camp, Hwange National Park yesterday. Picture by Leonard Ncube
Cde George Mlala