Farm inputs come with strings attached

fertilizerBULAWAYO - Farmers who support the MDC say they are being denied help through the Emergency Inputs Intervention scheme, launched by Robert Mugabe during a Zanu (PF) congress in December.

The farmers said Zanu (PF) officials were only giving the crop packs to their own supporters, despite an assurance by Mugabe that provincial governors, provincial administrators and district administrators were going to be in charge of the hand-outs.

They also accused the partys leadership of trying to derail the inclusive governments efforts to get agriculture back on its feet by imposing politically motivated regulations.

We were forced to reveal our party branches and chant pro Zanu (PF) slogans before we were given a 50 kg bag of fertiliser to share among us. What made us also uncomfortable was that the inputs were being distributed at the partys Tshabalala office, said Samson Ndebele, an MDC supporter.

In Khulumane, angry farmers accused the Zanu (PF) district chairperson, Ndlovu, of misleading the people by telling them that the free crop packs were gifts from the former ruling party.

These farming inputs were sourced from international humanitarian relief organisations and there is no way every bona fide farmer should not benefit from the programme. If the MDC or any other political party was doing the same, I am sure it would have been a big issue, said Timothy Zhou, an MDC activist who was also denied the inputs.

Under the scheme, Bulawayo received 9.5 tonnes of seed, 190 tonnes of compound D and 190 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser. The scheme is meant to benefit 190,000 households countrywide.

The MDC deputy national spokesperson, Tabitha Khumalo, confirmed she had received complaints from her partys supporters over the issue.

As MDC, we do not believe in using hand-outs as a political weapon in the campaign for the hearts and minds of the people. From what I understand, this programme is supposed to benefit every deserving farmer regardless of his or her political affiliation, she said.

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