Move to thwart partisan handouts

Government has set up committees at village level to thwart the partisan distribution of food, Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, has announced.


“Our concern as government is to ensure the complete de-politicisation of the distribution of food. We have an inter-ministerial food distribution chaired by Agriculture Minister Joseph Made,’’ he said.

Other members of the team are Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, Economic Planning Minister Tapiwa Mashakada, Energy Minister, Elton Mangoma and Labour Minister, Paurina Mpariwa, Biti said.

The team will set up the committees with representatives of Zanu (PF), MDC-T and MDC-M.

Addressing journalists on the state of the economy for the first quota in Harare on Thursday, the Finance Minister emphasised the need to find better ways to finance maize farmers and pay them on time.

Recurrent food shortages have partly been blamed on poor funding for farmers, lack of inputs and the failure by the Grain Marketing Board to pay them.

“We are trying to establish a market that will operate exactly along the lines of our tobacco market so that the farmer is paid immediately after delivering his grain,” said Biti.

Despite a severe cereal shortage this year, Biti allayed fears of starvation, saying there were adequate grain reserves to feed the nation. It has been estimated that Zimbabwe will harvest one million tonnes of maize from the 2011/12 cropping season, a 33 % decline in output from the last main farming season.

This leaves the country with a deficit of nearly a million tonnes that government has said will be covered by strategic grain reserves of 500 000 tonnes and imports from the region as well as humanitarian donations.

The nation requires 1 384 000 tonnes of grain and 350 000 tonnes for livestock and other uses on an annual basis. Biti was upbeat about the performance of the tobacco sector, saying this would drive growth.

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