DA, councillor in showdown over agric inputs

There was drama at the Marondera District Administrator’s office last week when MDC-T Marondera East Rural Ward 19 Councillor, Samuel Machekanyanga, cornered District Administrator James Chiwaru and quizzed him about partisan fertilizer distribution at the Grain Marketing Board.

Councillor Samuel Machekanyanga confronted DA James Chiwaru over  partisan distribution of agriculture inputs.
Councillor Samuel Machekanyanga confronted DA James Chiwaru over partisan distribution of agriculture inputs.

When he saw the MDC councillor accompanied by fellow MDC-T councillor Brighton Chapendama and some elderly villagers advance towards his office, Chiwaru attempted to escape. But Machekanyanga grabbed his shoulder and asked:

“Would you account for fertilizer allocations which were supposed to be distributed in wards 19 and 20 through the GMB? Where is the people’s fertilizer? As the DA, your office should represent all farmers irrespective of political affiliation. As an elected councillor there is no way I can fold my arms while people in my area are prejudiced,” Machekanyanga challenged the DA.

Chiwaru was at a loss for answers. “You will receive your allocation of the inputs at the appropriate time. Just be patient and respect the distribution structures on the ground,” he said angrily.

Agriculture inputs were reportedly being distributed through Zanu (PF) structures. Machekanyanga visited Chiwaru’s offices after the GMB Depot Manager, only identified as Mrs. Mdala, said the DA was responsible for the distribution of the inputs. “I am of no help in this regard. The DA’s office is better placed to know who gets what,” she said.

Farmers who witnessed the confrontation said it would be difficult for them to respect Chiwaru’s office given the partisan distribution of inputs.

Since government started distributing the subsidised fertilizer a fortnight ago, the exercise at the GMB here has been characterized by running battles between restless farmers and riot police. Farmers are protesting against ‘selective’ allocation of the inputs which favour mainly top Zanu (PF) and government officials at the expense of suspected MDC and unconnected farmers.

“On January 17, some two tons of fertilizer for ward 19 were diverted to undeserving and non-productive farmers from ward 6. They include Moses Chikosha Zanu (PF) district secretary, Edward Toto, Rwazen Kwela, Kapinga Kwela, Farai Mutengeni, Draft Mtengeni and Hatidani Mutengeni who posed as legitimate beneficiaries of the ward 19 fertiliser allocation and accessed the two tons,” said a prejudiced senior villager.

The Zimbabwean visited ward 6 and found some of the farmers who allegedly got the fertilizer fraudulently did not plant any crops this season. Farai Mutengeni’s fields were all grass. Some suggested the inputs could have found their way onto the black market.

According to sources at the GMB, the fertiliser was meant to benefit some 22 farmers from each ward. Each beneficiary would receive an average four 50 kg bags of top dressing.

GMB makes no follow-up to assess whether the inputs it distributes are put to good use.

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