Manicaland was affected by drought and poor farming preparations in the 2011-12 season, with some farmers failing to harvest anything. A cereal loan scheme introduced by the government to help food in secure households has reportedly been hijacked by influential individuals.
Mutare District Administrator Simon Sigauke recently confirmed that grain meant for the scheme had run out before the intended beneficiaries had received their monthly allocations.
Under the scheme, each needy household is supposed to receive 50kg of maize every month, said Sigauke, who added that hungry villagers were inundating the district offices to inquire about the availability of the grain.
“My office has been besieged by needy people who come to inquire when the next delivery will be made. Each household is receiving a 50 kg bag of maize per delivery, but this is not for big families,” he said.
Sigauke urged government to make speedy deliveries of the staple maize in order to avert hunger. The maize is being distributed through Grain Marketing Board depots. There is growing concern that Zanu (PF) officials and Agritex officers are diverting truckloads of food meant for the villagers to the black market.
They are reportedly selling it at exorbitant prices to ready buyers on the informal market. A source privy to the scandal said a tonne of maize was being sold for a minimum price of $250.
Supporters of the MDC have alleged that they are being side-lined in the distribution process. The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, Joseph Made, last week condemned the corruption.
“We are ready to weed out such unscrupulous people. I am aware that the issue of distributing grain is being politicised. Nobody should be denied access to grain. At no point should the GMB and Agritex officials distribute grain. This should be done by the traditional leaders,” said Made.
Meanwhile, The Zimbabwean has learnt that the Manicaland Small Miners Federation has disbursed a $50 000 credit facility it received from South African based Nashell Mining Trust last month to help its members produce minerals.
Steven Makata, MSMF Chairman, said the funds were disbursed to miners throughout the seven mining regions in the country.
“Regional representatives are giving this money to registered miners who have been producing gold or any other mineral mined in the region. They are disbursing the money and we are waiting for feedback from them,” Makata said. The association is now looking for funds from the Small Enterprises Development Corporation to assist small-scale miners. “The association would repay SEDCO the loan using earnings from gold. Out of the 25 000 small-scale miners whose operations were closed under operation “Chikorokoza Chapera” a few years back, only 2,000 were issued with environmental impact assessment certificates,” he added.Post published in: News