Command Agriculture – policy insanity of the highest order

At all material times, we have always insisted that the Zanu PF Government is incapable of governance and must reign and pave way for a National Transitional Authority (NTA).

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Emmerson Mnangagwa

The idea and concept of Command Agriculture being spearheaded by a power hungry Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is unworkable.

As we have said before, command agriculture is a throwback of a dark past in Eastern Europe when dictators played around with state capitalism that they mistakenly said was socialism.  In the process they debased and defaced the lives of millions in Romania, Hungary, East Germany and the USSR.

That 36 years after Independence, this Government can seek to pursue a model that is so discredited, a model that has been rejected totally in these countries is a reflection that we are run by dinosaurs and terrible theropods.

Thanks to Zanu PF, agriculture in Zimbabwe has collapsed and collapsed in ugly terms.

In its heyday, agriculture used to contribute 45% of the GDP.

Some 36 years into independence, thanks to Zanu PF, agriculture contribution to the GDP is now as low as minus 4, 2%.

– The table below shows revised projection for 2016

Sectoral Growth Rates (%)

2012 2013 2014 2015
Orig Proj
Rev Proj
Agriculture, hunting and fishing 7.8 -2.6 23.0 -5.2 1.8 -4.2
Mining and quarrying 8.0 11.7 -3.4 0.4 1.6 13.2
Manufacturing 5.3 -0.6 -5.1 0.2 2.1 0.2
Electricity and water 0.3 5.0 5.4 -5.5 3.6 -21.8
Construction 23.5 3.9 6.9 4.0 4.5 1.8
Finance and insurance 28.0 11.3 7.7 4.6 5.0 2.0
Real estate 59.0 0.7 4.7 3.5 2.5 2.0
Distribution, hotels and restaurants 4.3 3.9 2.5 4.0 4.0 2.4
Transport and communication 6.7 7.0 1.1 1.9 2.8 1.5
Public administration 19.1 3.4 6.3 1.2 1.3 -5.0
Education 38.1 2.9 3.9 4.2 1.3 2.6
Health 7.7 0.5 1.8 -0.7 2.1 0.4
Domestic services -3.5 6.0 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.0
Other services -10.7 -4.7 -3.3 3.0 2.5 3.0
GDP at market prices 10.6 4.5 3.8 1.1 2.7 1.2

Source: ZIMSTAT, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning, and RBZ

Firstly, as a matter of urgency, the farmer must be given title deeds and at the mere least bankable leases.

These instruments would then allow farmers to borrow from financial institutions that at all material times have supported agriculture in this country.

It must be borne in mind that before the land reform programme, 74% of all financial lending used to go to agriculture.

Secondly, the government must stop setting a producer price of maize particularly one which is way above regional parity prices.

The artificial high producer price allows Zanu PF elites and other small time commodity brokers to loot from the government through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

In this regard, Zanu PF must restore the Commodity Exchange that used to exist in the past to allow the free exchange of agriculture commodities.

Thirdly, in light of the food deficit, government most allow private importers to do what they have been doing all along namely, to import grain freely from Zambia, South Africa and other markets.

They have been doing this for years and have been feeding the people.

Lastly, the government must allow the international donor community to distribute donor aid without any interference and favour.

The Command Agriculture model is a disaster and a vehicle of looting and arbitrage.

Firstly, the government is broke and cannot even pay for its salaries; it is obvious that the same is going to borrow heavily from all sources including dubious sources at expensive rates.

We have no doubt that this is already happening.
In this regard, the government has a duty at law to explain its sources of financing. Borrowing from the markets will have a huge crowding out effect against a private sector, heavily in need of capital.

The $503 million debt will increase the stock of national debt, which is already unsustainable.

Indeed, it will increase the unsustainable debt, which in our calculations is now over 40% of the GDP.

Only a crazy regime behaves as if money grows on trees and will spend oblivious to the consequences of a loose fiscal regime.

What is clear to every Zimbabwean is that inputs purchased for Command Agriculture will be looted by Zanu PF ministers and other heavyweights and very few genuine farmers will obtain the inputs.

We saw this during the Government of National Unity (GNU) where senior Zanu PF ministers some of whom are now in the opposition, virtually looted the GMB to such a point that Cabinet abolished the concept of free inputs.

In the long term, Command Agriculture, with its regime of free inputs will just encourage dependence and under development of the farmer.

Some 16 years after the land reform programme, it is shocking that the so-called new farmer is still a new farmer, heavily indebted and incapable of self-financing.
Indeed, 16 years after the land reform programme, it is clear for all to see that the land reform programme has been a monumental failure.

Even those new farmers into tobacco who nominally appear to be doing well are mere vessels of tobacco merchants and are in the main languishing in poverty.

These are facts.

Zanu PF is the epitome of failure and corruption.

No self-respecting Zimbabwean should take them seriously.

We certainly don’t.


Frank Chamunorwa

PDP Secretary for Lands and Agriculture 

Post published in: Agriculture

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