The Presidential input scheme, Grain loan scheme: To whose Benefit is it anyway?

While it is indeed a noble gesture to assist communal farmers with inputs under the Presidential Well Wishers Input Support scheme and avert shortages of the staple grain through the grain loan scheme, the execution of these two exercises has caused a lot of conflicts in rural communities. Government officials and political activists have used the schemes to pursue political agendas and propagate politics of divide and rule further polarizing the already politically divided communities.

A lot of questions have emerged from these two schemes, the big one being that: To whose benefit has it been? Reports of corruption, mismanagement, theft, abuse of office, favoritism have dominated the programme. The scheme which is meant to cushion the needy families mainly in rural areas though for obvious political reasons some peri-urban settlers mainly from Harare South also benefited, the project has completely diverted from its initial mandate as it has been seriously hijacked by politicians mainly those alleged to belong to ZANU PF and in most cases reported to have since declared it a party project.

The 2011 -2012 agricultural season has already been declared a poor one in terms of rainfall distribution and food shortages in the country are inevitable. There is need to address the anomalies in the distribution of food assistance before reports of starvation starts to emerge especially in areas that have received little sporadic rains. From the weekly reports on the general state of affairs in communities Heal Zimbabwe received for 2012, the unfair distribution of the assistance have been rampant in Muzarabani, Guruve, Buhera, Zaka, Mount Darwin, Mutoko and Chiweshe.

The Presidential Inputs Support Scheme has been so politicized to the extent that anyone who intends to benefit from it is supposed to be a loyal member of ZANU Pf and has to be buttressed through producing a ZANU Pf membership card. This is so because anyone who has failed to produce a card or is suspected to be a member of the other political parties have been denied the inputs. This has further polarized communities on partisan basis thus further exacerbating conflicts and tensions in areas already affected by political violence.

It is clear that the Scheme meant to benefit the needy regardless of political affiliation has failed to fulfill its mandate and with the current call of a possibility of elections in 2012, the segregation will be intense. There is need for the other two principals in the GPA to intervene and call for necessary investigations into the scheme as it cannot be used as a campaign gimmick at the cost of the needy and vulnerable in rural areas.

Corruption and theft of the inputs has also weighed in heavily in the already politicized scheme. Initially, these programmes were supposed to benefit close to a million households but this has not been the case as there are reports of theft of inputs by officials responsible for the distribution who have diverted the inputs for personal use. A proper investigation should be done to ensure that those who abused the schemes are brought before the courts.

On the other hand, the Government grain loan scheme was initially supposed to work in such a manner that the beneficiaries would get grain and some agricultural inputs from the Grain Marketing Board and then later repay after harvesting. Looking at what was promised concerning the Grain Loan Scheme; every household was supposed to get a 50kg bag of grain but the exercise was also highly politicized with only ZANU Pf ward officers and leadership benefiting. It seems the grain has only been distributed to areas where there is a high concentration of ZANU PF supporters. In most of the areas, it is now regarded as a business venture where those from ZANU PF got themselves contracts as the transporters, distributers and sellers of the precious maize.

Thousands of villagers in Buhera, Chipinge, Nyanga, Makoni north and east and Mutare district have been denied assistance because they are MDC supporters. It is worrying that those implicated in the abuse of the Government inputs scheme of subsidized fertilizers are mainly political leaders in their own right.

Heal Zimbabwe insists that politicians should be reminded that food relief schemes are meant to cushion the needy and vulnerable people in society regardless of political affiliation. The time of looting is over, Lets be accountable in Building a better Zimbabwe.

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