Saturday, June 02, 2007

(THE HERALD) Farming, SADC, Mbanje and the MDC

Make farmers accountable for inputs

ONCE again, our farmers have failed to meet the projected 76 000 hectares needed for winter wheat this season. We would like to believe that the projected hectarage was not just plucked from the air but was predicated on the inputs the Government disbursed and the hectarage farmers who accessed the inputs claimed they would manage.

So what went wrong?

Apparently somebody somewhere did not honour his/her end of the bargain, and we urge the Government to get to the bottom of this mess. All farmers who got land did so on the understanding that they would use it productively, and every farmer who got inputs was supposed to invest them in national production. By reneging on this noble contract, the farmers have put the Government and the nation in a difficult situation.

It is regrettable that the Government; that commits scarce resources to empower farmers through bank loans, cheap fuel and subsidised input schemes, ends up taking the flak after some misguided individuals abuse well-meant schemes for self-enrichment not national production.

One does not have to be a genius to visualise what is likely to happen over the next three months; flour shortages will feed into scarcity of bread. And as the laws of supply and demand decree, the bread shortage will trigger price increases with concomitant misery for the already overstretched consumer.

Not only that, the Government may also be forced to divert scarce foreign currency from productive sectors to import flour, which by dint of being acquired at great cost, will also necessitate an increase in the price of bread.

What is regrettable is that almost the same farmers who have let the nation down again and again, are usually the ones who always access inputs that they do not use.

This is why we urge the Government to come down hard on all farmers who acquired inputs on the understanding that they would use them productively but failed to do so. They have to explain why they did not honour their part of the bargain.

Such farmers are no different from the economic saboteurs who are bleeding the economy through illegal dealings that create personal rather national wealth on a daily basis.

We urge the Ministry of Agriculture to use the records at Agribank and various GMB depots countrywide to follow up on all beneficiaries, who must account for what they got from the fiscus.

Unless adequate mechanisms are put in place to ensure that farmers account for what they are given, this vicious cycle will not end.

But that is not all, we have also noted unwarranted shortages of other agricultural products like onions, tomatoes and even carrots simply because we have not structured our post-land reform agriculture to ensure that a variety of crops are grown.

Here again we would like to urge farmers to try as much as possible to go into the mode of agriculture that used to be carried out by previous farm holders.

Admittedly, part of the failure also had to do with ignorance on the part of some newly resettled farmers who opted to pursue types of farming at variance with the agro-ecology of their land, again they have to be guided by what the previous owner was producing.

We hope this is the last time, farmers will get away with it.

Sadc team returns to Zim
Herald Reporter

SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Augusto Salamao arrived in Harare last night on a follow-up mission to recent meetings he held with the Government and other stakeholders as part of the regional grouping’s economic turnaround strategy for Zimbabwe. Dr Salamao’s visit is in line with the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in March which tasked the Sadc Secretariat to study ways and means through which the regional trading bloc could assist in the economic recovery of the country. His three-man advance team arrived early yesterday.

Dr Salamao, who was last in the country in April, was met at the Harare International Airport by senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He will be here until Sunday. In an interview shortly after his arrival, Dr Salamao said he had come to carry on with his work and to introduce his team to the Government.

"We are here to continue what we have started already — that is doing our assessment and research and come up with a recommendation that we will forward to the relevant authority. By the end of June, we must have a report ready for the relevant authorities,’’ he said.

The Sadc extraordinary summit tasked the executive secretary to study the economic situation and propose measures on how the regional bloc could assist the country to recover economically. During his last visit, Dr Salamao held talks with President Mugabe, Government officials and representatives of multilateral agencies in the country.

At the Dar es Salaam summit, Sadc leaders appealed to Britain and her Western allies to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and recognise the legitimacy of President Mugabe who was re-elected in the 2002 presidential elections, beating MDC faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

Speaking to journalists after meeting the President the last time he was in the country, Dr Salamao spoke of the importance of Sadc’s support for Zimbabwe.

He said the meetings were part of the consultations he was undertaking to come up with a programme to rescue Zimbabwe’s economy, which is under siege from Western-imposed illegal sanctions.

Allow me to grow mbanje, says n’anga
Beitbridge Bureau

A 67-YEAR-OLD self-styled traditional healer yesterday left a Beitbridge court in stitches after making countless appeals to the magistrate for him to allow her to continue growing mbanje. She argued that the practice was meant to appease her ancestral spirits.

Martha Ngwenya of Siyoka area in Beitbridge had been convicted of one count of contravening a section of the Dangerous Drugs Act when she appeared before Mr Tavengwa Sangster. She was slapped with three months’ imprisonment which were wholly suspended for three years. "Your worship, I plead with you to allow me to continue growing the plants since I use them to appease my ancestral spirits for them to protect me and my family from evil spirits," she pleaded.

Charges against Ngwenya arose on March 13 this year after police, acting on a tip-off, descended on her homestead. A search was conducted at her house leading to the discovery of three mbanje plants with an average height of 1,8 metres inside her rondavel. She was subsequently arrested and the plants uprooted for destruction by the State. Mr Nqobani Sithole appeared for the State.

MDC: Is it Africa or Europe?

By Caesar Zvayi

WHEN the master enters the compound, his dogs drop all monkey business and rush to greet him, wagging tails like they are going out of fashion.

Even if they are involved in the usual dogfights, they stop dead to whimper expectantly, just to get an approving pat on the head from the master.

I would never have thought such canine behaviour could find expression among human beings, who are supposed to be blessed with rational thought, but alas, this week the MDC leadership gave new meaning to the phrase "running dogs".

MDC faction leaders, who had become the human forms of the Tom and Jerry animated characters, buried their internecine fight to make a beeline for South Africa to meet a man who has been rejected by his own nation, a man forced into early retirement because of his destructive politics, whose effects can be seen in our economy today.

According to British media, Tony Blair is the most hated prime minister in living memory, boasting of a legacy drenched by the blood of innocent Afghans and Iraqis he helped butcher with the help of Dubya, that Son of a Bush.

The Socialist Equality Party captured his circumstance very well: "Blair leaves office as an unindicted war criminal and the first sitting prime minister in history to be interviewed as part of a police investigation, the ‘cash for honours’ scandal."

This is the man who told the world that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed in 45 minutes to pulverise the world, but up to now nothing of that sort has been found in Iraq.

This is the man who is telling similar lies about Zimbabwe today, a man who, if there was any fairness in this world, deserves to be dragged to The Hague for crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Iraq and even our own Zimbabwe.

This is why, along with his ally Dubya, he encounters demonstrators wherever he goes, except in Africa, of course, where he can even have the luxury of being made an honorary tribal chief!

But my beef with the MDC leadership does not lie in whom they choose to associate with, after all ours is a democratic country that, like any progressive nation, only draws a line on close encounters of the Tatchell-kind.

The problem comes when Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara embark on their sell-out behaviour under the guise of advancing the interests of Zimbabwe — a Zimbabwe that came only after Blair’s forebears were brought to the knees they claimed they didn’t have by the might of the AK47.

Let me borrow from Ian Smith for emphasis here: Never in a thousand years should we allow them to reverse the gains of independence.

It is regrettable but instructive that the MDC leaders chose to expose their manifest sellout behaviour just two months after Sadc passed a historic and progressive resolution in defence of our national interest and sovereignty.

A resolution Tsvangirai and Mutambara refuse to embrace in its entirety when they have no qualms rushing in the dead of night to embrace a man even Albion spat out like the last dregs of a cheap brew.

A man who Sadc leaders — by calling on him to honour his colonial obligations to Zimbabwe, and the West to lift its illegal sanctions — placed at the core of the problems bedevilling this country.

This is the same Blair who tried to internationalise a purely bilateral dispute roping in the European Union to impose a raft of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

This is the same Blair who prevailed on Bush to come up with the spurious and illegal Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, a sanctions law behind the economic problems we face today.

While all progressive people are revolted by the MDC leaders’ stooge behaviour, at least it has served a purpose, by exposing to all doubting Thomases the true parentage of this creature calling itself Zimbabwean.

The role the Westminster Fund for Democracy, with Blair at the helm in his capacity as the chair, played in giving birth to the MDC is common knowledge, a feat the Westminster website proudly displayed, and only removed upon realising it had handed Zanu-PF much-needed ammunition.

What the MDC leaders have proved is that President Mugabe was spot-on in his characterisation of their party as a counter-revolutionary Trojan horse contrived and nurtured by the very inimical forces that enslaved and oppressed our people yesterday.

After their lap of dishonour in South Africa, Tsvangirai and Mutambara should not be allowed to approach the round table under the auspices of Sadc without declaring where their hearts lie.

The region has to know whether they are with Sadc, and, by extension Africa and Zimbabwe, or they are with Europe.

The test is simple, the MDC must accept the Sadc resolution in its entirety, nothing more, nothing less and this involves:

l Acknowledging that President Mugabe won a free and fair election in 2002;

l That Britain had a role to play in the land reform programme;

l That the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are illegal and have to be lifted; and

l That they (sanctions) are "not smart" and that Britain has to engage Zimbabwe.

These are the conditions the MDC should meet before sitting down to talk to Zanu-PF, because unless they do that, they approach the table with dirty hands.

They must also remember that the mediator, President Thabo Mbeki, knows exactly what is at stake in this initiative as he is on record saying:

"The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe; tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola, it will be any other African country. And any government that is perceived to be strong and to be resistant to imperialists (read Bush and Blair) would be made a target and would be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in the solidarity of Sadc, because that weakness will also be transferred to the rest of Africa."

This is why it is in the MDC’s interest to exorcise the Moise Tshombe demon, and pledge solidarity with Africa lest they join Blair in the dustbins of history.

But should they meet Blair and defend Zimbabwe, I apologise.

Views on forex rate warped

EDITOR — The letter by Mr Albert Nhamoyebonde titled "End distortions on forex market" (The Herald, May 15 2007) in which he suggested that we peg the exchange rate to the price of bread, cannot go unchallenged.

Firstly, Mr Nhamoyebonde should be reminded that the staple food in Zimbabwe is not wheat and, by extension, bread, but maize, which means sadza.

Secondly, the price of bread, which he has used as a benchmark for equating our currency against the greenback, is constantly going up. Should we, therefore, continue revising our currency whenever the price of bread goes up or down?

He should also remember that we have different types of bread — white, brown, Swiss, whole wheat, etc — whose sizes and prices vary from shop to shop and from place to place.

So which type or form of bread was he talking about and why did he not talk about other types of bread that are cheaper than the one he chose?

Even if he had talked about maize-meal, his argument, from a layman’s point of view, still lacked clear economic interpretation.

Deciding the value of a currency basing on prices of certain goods prevailing on the market is not the best solution to solve the distortions on the forex market, but to let the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe decide what is best for the nation.

The forex and price distortions that we are faced with nowadays have more to do with subversive politics than anything else.

Sydney Mukwenje.


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At 5:39 PM , Blogger MrK said...


How communist. The farmers are the enemy of the revolution. Right. Now if the writer would get off his backside and ASK the farmers what the problem is, that would be different. However, farmers 'taking inputs they do not use' makes no sense. And using bank records to institue police action against farmers? How unimaginative. The last thing anyone sensible will want to do is to make entrepreneurship of farming a more dangerous exercise than it already is.

Get the facts first, then suggest the policy.

So what did go wrong? 'Apparently somebody somewhere...?'


I say legalize it. Weed is healthier than alcohol - no calories, and much less of a hangover.


I agree that it would be better to track inflation in Zimbabwe in US dollar terms, so they actually give an impression of the actual availability of goods, not the financial goings on with the Zimbabwe dollar.


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