Mavhaire slams ‘lazy’ resettled farmers

Farmers resettled during the controversial land reform programme in the run up to the 2000 elections are under-utilising their mainly due to laziness.

Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire.
Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire.

This is costing the nation, which has to rely on grain imports and donors, says Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire.

The minister, who is also the Zanu (PF)’s secretary for labour and production, told farmers gathered at a field day at Divide Farm near Guinea Fowl, a few kilometers from Gweru, that there is need for government to take action in order to resolve the crisis.

“Zanu (PF) embarked on the land reform exercise in order to empower the locals, but what we are seeing is very disappointing. Those whom we resettled are leaving their land to lie idle and we are not seeing any meaningful production from many of them.

“We are having to import grain when we thought the new farmers would produce enough for the nation. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Mavhaire told the gathering he was not speaking his personal views but articulating the disappointment of Zanu (PF) and government. He also castigated farmers unwilling to sell their cattle to the Cold Storage Commission, saying their conduct was tantamount to sabotage.

“CSC is failing to operate normally because farmers don’t want to sell their cattle – yet it’s our state enterprise mandated to supply beef not only locally but regionally and internationally as well. As farmers you should support it,” he said.

This is the first time in many years that a top Zanu (PF) official has admitted that the chaotic land reform exercise, which saw thousands of productive commercial farmers being displaced to pave way for the chaotic resettlement, was a monumental blunder. Most officials, including President Robert Mugabe, continue to insist that the exercise was to resettle landless people and the subsequent failure to produce bumper harvests was because of so-called sanctions.

Critics say the process was flawed as chefs in Zanu (PF) got away with multiple farms while unskilled people were awarded vast tracts of productive land in order to sway them to vote for the party. Mavhaire challenged the resettled farmers who always cry about lack of heavy equipment to take a leaf from Cephas Mbavare, who won the Master Farmer award after producing 24 tonnes of maize on four hectares using ox-drawn ploughs.

Resettled farmers have battled countless challenges including drought, shortages of inputs, bad roads, lack of access to capital, insecurity of tenure, ignorance and poor agricultural extension services.

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