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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 26 MARCH 2009 VOL. 35 NO. 26

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 26th March, 2009

The House of Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O'clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

MR. J. M. GUMBO: Madam Speaker, I move that Order of the Day, No. 1be stood over until all Orders have been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

DISTRIBUTION OF AGRICULTURAL INPUTS

MR. MWONZORA: I move the motion standing in my name that;

APPRECIATING that agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Zimbabwe;

ACKNOWLEDGING that the issue of food security for all Zimbabweans is a priority for the All Inclusive Government;

REALIZING that the distribution of inputs which is basically a civilian function was not done in a fair and transparent manner;

DISMAYED that endemic and debilitating corruption has plagued the input distribution programme;

REALISING that agricultural production has been adversely affected by lack of forward planning and timeous provisions of agriculture inputs;

NOW THEREFORE RESOLVES THAT;

i) The inputs for the 2009/10 agricultural season be distributed to disadvantaged rural farmers by the end of July 2009;

ii) That a completely transparent system of distribution of agricultural inputs be put in place,

iii) That all elected officials namely Councillors and Members of Parliament who are the trustees of the people be actively involved in the input distribution programme.

MR. MUDIWA: I second.

MR. MWONZORA: Thank you Madam Speaker. In summary, the motion that I am debating today relates to the mobilization and provision of agricultural inputs in a timely manner. In contributing to this motion Madam Speaker, I am very much aware of the brave efforts made by the All Inclusive Government towards the improvement of agricultural production. In particular, I am aware that the government intends at least on paper, to embark early on strategies that ensure that preparations for the 2009 winter wheat and 2009/10 summer cropping season are put in place. STERP convinces us that the government is fully aware of the previous state interventions that were characterized by late mobilization of the necessary material, human, foreign and local currency requirements. The aim inter alia is to ensure that in the 2009/10 farming season the country produces 80% of its maize requirements. In financing agriculture, use will be made of traditional contract farming, private funding using own resources as well as loans from the financial sector. Importantly, STERP calls for provision of inputs through the open market. The above is a giant step towards the privatization of agricultural production and thus ensuring efficiency or the optimal utilization of resources.

In paragraph 98 STERP provides that

"the inclusive government will endeavor to mobilize resources in support of disadvantaged rural farmers. This will be complimented by crop input pack support from cooperating partners including NGO's" (emphasis added)

It is this provision of STERP that forms the basis of my contribution.

THE GOLDEN DAYS OF ZIMBABWE'S AGRICULTURE

At Independence and a few years thereafter, Zimbabwe had a prestigious title as the breadbasket of Africa. Indeed we could afford to export our agricultural products after meeting our domestic requirements. Our crop especially tobacco was of the highest quality and was competitive in the world market. There was so much food security in our country that at one time our country won the world prize as a fighter against hunger. Our farmers were rewarded on merit. The master farmer programme ensured that our farmers who excelled in their business were favourably rewarded. Agricultural inputs were relatively, fairly distributed and elected officials like Councillors and Members of Parliament were involved in the distribution programme. Our children were able to go to school on full stomachs and teachers were also able to teach on full stomachs.

THE CURRENT SCENARIO

This country is faced with food insecurity problems of monolithic proportions. A lot of land lies idle while people are starving. Right now in the areas of Nyanga North the people of Katerere - Hwesa area which covers Fombe, Avilla, Kazozo, Chapatarongo, Ruwangwe and Sande Munemo areas are plagued with debilitating hunger. So are people in Mazarura, Kanyimo, Sanhami, Matinha, Nyautare and Nyangombe areas. So biting is the hunger that some of these people are now living on unripened sorghum. Their children are not able to go to school because of the hunger. Their teachers are unable to fully discharge their duties because they are equally hungry. When they visit clinics and hospitals the nurses there demand payment in the form of mealie-meal, soap, cooking oil, etc. This is not because the nurses are mean, but because they too do not have food. Resultantly, these people have fallen victims of unscrupulous traders mostly from Harare who come with grain to barter trade with livestock. Some of the traders are demanding the following barter exchange rates; 150kg of maize to one heifer, 200kg of maize to one ox and 10kg of maize to one goat.

These exchange rates are clearly exploitative on the already poor and debilitated communities. Resultantly these communities have fallen victims of opportunistic diseases associated with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When one is in the Katerere area it is as if one is in Mogadishu or in the Darfur region of the Sudan. The people are really suffering. When I went to visit some of the hospitals in Nyanga North I was touched to see hungry cholera patients being treated by hungry nurses who in turn were being aided by equally hungry villagers.

There is no sign that the famine and suffering will go away any time soon. This is because there is clearly going to be very low crop yield because these people could not access inputs such as fertilizer, seed and chemicals from the Grain Marketing Board and Arex. The little inputs that reached them were distributed to them as late as the middle of January 2009 when their crop had already been destroyed.

Even in the areas with a lot of water including

Chirimanyimo, Kambudzi, Nyamaropa, Nyakomba, Nyadowa and parts of Sabvure , the crop yield is of poor quality due to the unavailability of farming inputs.

Chirimanyimo area used to be the largest potato producing area in the whole of the SADC region. It boasted of two prolific large scale seed potato growers like Mr. Jack Mandikonza of Tsatsati Farm and Mr. Webster Mandikonza of Muozi Farm. Between them they employed over 1000 people. However, these farms stand ruined and the crop yield poor. They also do not have fuel. The same goes for the other good small scale farmers including a Mr. Timbiriri in the same area. The usually high yielding paprika growers in Nyakomba, Nyadowa and Nyamaropa though with a lot of water had access to agricultural inputs. Problems that we hear in Nyanga are the same problems that we find in Muzarabani, Hurungwe and Mutoko. The distribution of inputs in Nyanga, is largely in the hands of the military. Maybe the assumption was that soldiers are more disciplined, therefore, not corrupt. Soldiers in a hungry country are corruptible - are not immune to corruption. A lot of inputs were diverted into the black market where they were sold at exorbitant prices. Therefore, they never reached the intended beneficiaries, the rural disadvantaged farmers. There was massive corruption on the part of the distributors.

One incident was that, an army truck carried fertilizers supposedly free of charge to Nyautare Area, Ward 8. The diesel was free and was from the army yet villagers were asked to fork-out as much as US$4.00 to US$5.00 per 50kg as transport money. This money, I now have it on good record, never reached the army. In Chapatarongo, Katerere and Kazozo areas, people were forced by party functionaries masquerading as private transporters to fork-out as much as US$10.00 per bag as transport money. Consequently, those robbed villagers. Those who were unable to raise the money were asked to surrender their livestock as payment. Those who could not afford to give any livestock like Ambuya Maria in Buseta Village in Nyamapara, were denied the inputs. The inputs were then diverted to those people who were able to pay.

Furthermore, people were discriminated on political grounds by people who were supposed to be apolitical. Those who dared to question - some of the military and semi-military people, were brutally assaulted. Evidence of this can be furnished to anyone who cares investigating that issue. Therefore corruption, farvouritism, opaqueness and arbitrariness have characterized the input distribution programme in Zimbabwe. This has resulted in the poor, disadvantaged rural farmers failing to have access to inputs. This also has contributed to poor preparation of the winter cropping.

I now want to go to poor paperwork by which I mean poor accountability in the whole system. The policy governing the provision of inputs, for the National Food Security Programme, for example, is not well spelt-out and those who purport to enforce it have no idea of what they are doing. The only written document is an order paper issued to AREX officials. It is a restricted document, therefore, one which is not availed to members of the public including the farmers themselves. There is no sound paperwork. For example, there are very poor records on what was allocated to a particular constituency. There are also poor records of what was allocated to each ward. There is no record of how much each transporter was given, equally surprising is that, there is no record of how much that transporter delivered to the people. No records are kept regarding the identity of each recipient and the quantities given to that recipient. In short, there are no checks and balances in the system. There is also no follow-up on the yield of each recipient to ascertain the efficiency in the use of inputs.

I now want to go to elected officials and in introducing this sub-topic of elected officials, I would like to say, the electorate is rational and a parliamentarian or a councillor is 'a people's trustee'. In legal terms, we call him/her, an alter ego of the people - meaning the trustee of the people. However, in all the constituencies, I have been able to look at elected officials have been marginalized in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the agricultural input provision programme. In this regard, a member of parliament or a councillor does not know what was allocated to his constituency or ward. He also does not know, for example, the distribution plan and the criteria of that distribution. This creates an information asymmetry between the councillor, the member of the parliament, the distributors and recipients regarding what was allocated. He does not know what varieties were distributed in his constituency or ward and the suitability thereof. The main argument advanced by those who introduced this programme is that if we involve politicians then the programme will be politicized. The assumption underlining that position is that civil servants like soldiers are less political and less corrupt. This is a dangerous and false assumption. Evidence is available that some soldiers are involved in the input distribution programme have political ambitions and are feathering their political nests and lining their pockets.

In that sense, Madam Speaker, I wish to thank Hon. Gumbo - that is the advantage of having elders in the august House. Secondly, elected people are elected by the electorate amongst other things because the electorate is satisfied by their levels of integrity and honesty. The electorate votes for people it trusts.

Thirdly, by virtue of their offices, elected officials owe their political existence to the people. Therefore, they will be ill-disposed to manifest corruption and favouritism because they all know that is the surest way of getting a political red card.

Fourthly, involvement of elected officials does not mean asking the election officials to control the process. Rather their involvement ensures transparency and accountability in the whole process of fair input distribution.

Fifthly, the empirical evidence, historical evidence, supports my contention Madam Speaker, that we won that prestigious world prize for our fight against hunger. Elected officials, councilors and members of Parliament were involved in the input distribution.

Sixthly, the current system is so opaque that the implementers themselves do not appreciate it.

We will not end hunger in Zimbabwe if inputs are not distributed on time to enable farmers to plan ahead. The all Inclusive Government's dream for food security and self reliance will remain illusory because of endemic corruption there is opaqueness and exclusion in the allocation and distribution of agriculture inputs. The elected officials like Councillors represent the people, so they must be involved to bring transparency and efficiency in the system. There must be complete demilitarisation of the input provision programme, which should be a civilian function. There must be a clear system of identifying and rewarding meritorious producers. There must be adequate fertiliser in shops and supermarkets at fair prices. That Mr. Speaker is the simplest way of taking Zimbabwe forward.

MR. MUDIWA: Allow me hon. members to support the motion raised by Hon. Mwonzora. It is time that we should get Zimbabwe to start moving again. We should get all members of this august House to participate in the agricultural management process. The Minister of Finance in presenting or launching the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) made it clear with regard to agriculture that in the long term it would be essential and critical that the country is guarantees food security and self reliance.

He went further to say and I quote, "the Inclusive Government's efforts to boost the country's state of preparedness for the cropping season should also include the mobilisation of the necessary resources in support of tillage, provision of such inputs as fertiliser, seed, machinery and material resources, "In the spirit of STERP, I want to urge all hon. members of Parliament and Councillors to be part and parcel of the agricultural management process. We have noticed in the past, divergence of inputs by unscrupulous officials in government to the black market.

Members of Parliament are urged to assume their oversight role by overseeing the distribution of inputs to farmers and not delegate to the Chiefs and AREX alone. Let every member of this House know that it is your responsibility to ensure that in your constituency distribution is done transparently. Management is a game of involving and I want to urge government to ensure the involvement of members of Parliament because we have noticed in the past that members of Parliament have been sidelined. We want to urge government to ensure that all members of Parliament are involved in this process.

Madam Speaker, in conclusion, preparedness is an art of planning and this art of planning should be instilled in government and I am glad that Hon. Ministers are here to deliberate this as Hon. Mwonzora said that our failure has been as a result of poor planning. We urge the government to ensure that we plan way ahead of the agriculture season.

MR. CHIMBETETE: Madam Speaker, I do agree with the mover of the motion that agriculture is the backbone of the economy of Zimbabwe. Madam Speaker, it is proper that we look back and reflect on the situation that prevailed before independence in 1980 and see how our former colonial masters handled agriculture. During this period the whites enjoyed the possession of all the fertile land in Zimbabwe.

This situation was reversed at independence when a number of smallholder farmers were placed in resettlement villages countrywide. From this group, some proved to be good farmers, but had no opportunity to get larger areas on which to carry out their farming activities. This is where the first mistake was made by not upgrading them to A2 farms because these people already had the experience and the tools to use on the farms the oxen and the scotch carts etc.

The second mistake was when everyone was allowed to grab land without proper allocation and without any form of assessment as to whether one was capable or had the required material to use on the farms. Madam Speaker, how on earth can one get 400 hectares when he or she does not possess a goat or chicken?

The third mistake was on the distribution of farm inputs which was done on purely political lines. The majority of the farmers who received the inputs had the tendency of selling them on the black market. Some of the new farm owners sacked all the employees because they could not afford to pay the required wages.

Madam Speaker, the fourth mistake which was made during the Jambanja - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible Interjections] - was that the responsible authority forgot that in Zimbabwe we had a number of agricultural colleges which produced graduates annually. These include the University of Zimbabwe, Gwebi, Chibero College, Kushinga Pikelela etc. No one ever thought of affording these agricultural graduates an opportunity to farm. I have no doubt in my mind that if this had been done, the levels of productivity on the farms would not have gone down.

The fifth mistake is that as you drive the Mutare to Harare through the highway, you will notice that all the farms which used to produce tobacco and maize have been deserted and they are growing grass.

Madam Speaker, the sixth mistake is that the GMB, the DAs and the Arex staff who were given the responsibility to distribute inputs are only giving the inputs to their ZANU PF members - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order hon. members. What is your point of order hon. member?

MR. MAVHIMA: The hon. member should be truthful when presenting information to this House. It is not true that inputs were given to ZANU PF members only - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, I will start sending some hon. members out of this House now.

MR. MAVHIMA: It was quite clear that the court records show that some members of MDC are not better.

MR. CHIMBETETE: Madam Speaker, the Committees must be dissolved and new ones set up to work with the hon. members and Councillors. For planning purposes, the inputs should be given to the farmers by the end of July or August. To support our inclusive government, let us do away with corrupt tendencies. I thank you.

MR. J.M. GUMBO: I want to thank Hon. Mwonzora and his seconder Hon. Mudiwa for this very important motion that they have put forward. It would not be fair for us to use provocative language that may spoil debate on this important motion and it is unfortunate that the point of order that the Hon. Mavima tried to put forward to you was not clearly understood because in the House we are not allowed to give false information like what the hon. member did. It is really not allowed and hon. members know that one would have expected that the Chair would have ruled that the member should not continue talking like what he did.

However, that being what has been said, the truth of the matter is that this is a very important motion….

MADAM SPEAKER: Order Hon. Gumbo, no member is allowed to challenge the ruling of the Speaker.

MR. J.M. GUMBO: Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to challenge what the Chair has ruled. However, I want to advise my colleagues without challenging what the Chair has said - let me advise all my colleagues that we are not allowed as members to find ourselves giving false information deliberately.

Madam Speaker, we are spoiling the debate. Indulging in the use of provocative language and falsehoods should not spoil an important debate like this one that Hon. Mwonzora has brought into the House.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, can you debate on Hon. Mwonzora's motion.

MR. J.M. GUMBO: Madam Speaker, I am actually debating in a proper way. The motion that Hon. Mwonzora has brought to the House is a very important motion and I will not have it spoiled by innuendos about the importance of the motion. The point is that we have to accept that Hon. Mwonzora acknowledges that food security is a priority for the inclusive government, that food security is important, and I want to say that this is one of the policies the Unity Government has adopted from the previous government and it continues to be a priority to all governments to come because Zimbabwe is an agricultural country. We will always continue to make agriculture a priority.

I want to say that Hon. Mwonzora made a very good observation on the issue of distribution of inputs to all people. It has always been an issue that has never pleased members on the other side and the nation has always complained about how things are being distributed.

However, it is important - maybe that he should have made a suggestion as to who should actually come up to do the distribution because the point that he mentioned when he said hon. members and Councillors should be the ones involved in the distribution of these inputs might not work. Councillors are being attacked on allegations of favouritism and some hon. members are before the courts because they have taken the fertilizer and seeds that they have been given for sale. The hon. member has pointed out that Hon. Mnangagwa is involved and I think that is not allowed. Can he substantiate that?

MADAM SPEAKER: Hon. Matutu, can you stand up and either substantiate or withdraw your statement.

MR. MATUTU: Madam Speaker, I believe when the hon. member decided to go by what the papers are saying in trying to implicate hon. members appearing before the courts, he must not be offended by the same stories. There is a story that Hon. Mnangagwa was supposed to have abused Operation Maguta inputs and a former CIO member acted purportedly on behalf of Hon. Mnangagwa. Hon. Mnangagwa failed to appear before the courts and that is what I am talking about.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order hon. members, can you please refrain from talking about things that you see in newspapers in this august House.

MR. J.M. GUMBO: Madam Speaker, I just want to remind my colleagues that I do not want to mention anybody myself and I am not referring to anybody in the papers. As the motion states

here that elected officials be used. I have just said we have heard information from around the country, not to mention anybody's name that even elected members can also not be trusted. All I am encouraging the mover to do is that if we should be able to come up with a system that can be used in the distribution of the inputs. In other words, all I am trying to do is to put more ideas to what the hon. member has suggested.

I also want to agree with the mover of the motion that at times when we come to the farming season, our farmers are not in a position to purchase inputs because there will be delays because of prices or shortages. This is something that we should be encouraging here as members of Parliament to the Minister of Agriculture whom I am happy is here in the House today. Farmers should have inputs in time so that they can plan for their farming. I agree with the mover that we need to have good planning from the Ministry of Agriculture so that we can have all the necessary inputs that farmers will need in time before the farming season.

I want to say that Zimbabwe is an agricultural country and we as leaders we should very much be involved in agriculture. It will be pleasing to find that most members here are involved in food production.

MR. MANGWANA: Madam Speaker, I want to join my colleagues in thanking the Hon. Mwonzora for bringing such an important motion. It is important that we deal with a question of inputs if we are to revive agriculture. One of the reasons why we say there is a lot of corruption around the distribution of inputs, it is because of the shortage of those inputs. I think we have to deal with the root cause of the problem rather than the symptoms. We are seeing a situation where producers of inputs are not operating in full capacity. The country is not having sufficient fertilizer. Our fertilizer manufacturing companies are operating at about 10% capacity.

Madam Speaker, it is my suggestion that in order to deal with the question of inputs in this country, the relevant ministries, which support those industries which produce fertilizer in Zimbabwe - Sable Chemicals is probably operating at about 10% capacity, ZFC is operating at less than 15% capacity, our own farmers who are growing seed have not been supported in terms of prices. Many people have moved away from producing seed because the price being offered is not attractive.

We now need to come up with a special fund to assist farmers in seed production. Once we do that, we will then witness seed being found in shops and in various areas. Then the government's role will be to look at people who can not afford - at the moment everybody who want to obtain some inputs has to join the queue and receive inputs from a central distribution place. That kind of situation gives rise to corruption because everybody must queue, even those who have got the money must queue.

As nature determines, we are not all born equal and that is the reason why we end up blaming senior officials because they will be using their positions of influence to compete with an ordinary person - [AN HON MEMBER: Ndiyo corruption ka] - people must be able to find inputs in shops and buy using their own resources. We also need to have our financial institutions contributing - I am sorry to say I do not see much enthusiasm in financial institutions supporting agriculture. Agriculture has a lot of business than retailing. If we do not sensitise financial institutions or implore them to put aside a certain portion of their resources in supporting agriculture, we are not going anywhere. It does not make sense for financial institutions to wait for 12 months before a farmer can sell and repay their loan yet they can offer short term overdrafts to retailers who will be able to pay back and turn around and pay back. So we need to sensitise our financial institutions. Farming does not need to be a business but it is a high risk business than most businesses we are involved in this economy. Although it is a high risk business, government should play its role in imploring financial institutions to support our farmers, if they are not supported, they are not able to borrow.

I agree that the current system of distributing inputs is flawed and leads to corruption but I am not sure whether politicians are the best people to distribute inputs. They will be involved more in corruption than distributing inputs. The job of a politician naturally is to offer favours to the constituency. I have my supporters in Chivi, when I am given a role to distribute inputs, I will let it to be the business of my supporters -[AN HON. MEMBER: Vanhu veZANU PF] - this is across the party lines whether MDC-T, MDC-M or ZANU PF, the tendency is the same, we will favour our supporters.

I do not agree with Hon. Mwonzora in his suggestion that MPs and councillors be involved in the distribution of inputs. My view is that we need to straighten the corruption model to ensure that we have a structural mode of distributing inputs. If the current system in place is not sufficient enough, we cannot replace it with a worse corrupt system. Let us ensure we have a criteria for who should benefit on the basis of selected beneficiaries. My word of wisdom to my colleagues is that by virtue of being elected into Parliament, we do not acquire a new version; we remain as fallible as others.

*MR CHIMANIKIRE: Firstly, I want to thank Mr Mwonzora for the motion that he has moved which is of importance. I am hoping that since we now have a government of national unity, we are supposed to assist each other and work together if we have been doing things using the wrong methods, let us correct each other in terms of methodology. I am surprised by the bickering that is happening, that is not the aim, what we should change is the way of doing things and lead by example in terms of distribution of farming inputs. Let us not forget that before we get to the stage of distributing inputs, subsistent farmers contributed 60% of the grain that was stored at the GMB. Last year the same subsistent farmers were begging for mealie meal to make porridge. This is why I am saying, this shouting and heckling in the House is not helping us on the motion that we are debating.

Firstly, I would like to commend Hon. Mangwana, who suggested that the Anti-corruption Commission should do their work. He also was in the same Ministry. I would like to say, this is an opportunity that we have been given as parliamentarians to ensure that honest people are involved in the distribution of these inputs. At the same time, the inputs should be given to poor people.

In 2005, the then Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Made, appealed to the House that the people who had benefited from the inputs scheme should not pay back the dues because the money had lost its value. We cannot allow such things to continue, that is what has killed the economy. We should have maintained the viability of the input scheme in tandem with the current value of our dollar. That way, many more people would have benefited from the revolving scheme.

We had Agritex advising farmers on the types of crops suitable for each region, the timing for planting as well as crop varieties for different types of soils. We stopped utilising these experts. I strongly advocate that we revert to this system, which worked very well and let Agritex continue with their work. We should acknowledge that on this note, we made a mistake by giving land to untrained people.

Madam Speaker, last year, rural folk were given 25kg's of seed per two families, which was only enough for them to till small portions of land adjacent to their homesteads. The seed was not even enough for their big fields. So a lot of people in rural areas failed to till the land, not because the rains were scarce, but because they had no seed. Therefore, the issue of seed is critical and when we debate in this House, there should be unity of purpose. We should come up with concrete proposals in this House on the way forward this coming season -concerning the distribution of inputs.

There is also this issue of seed which we received from SADC, is it still there or not? We should ensure that sanity is restored in the agricultural sector. -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- Madam Speaker, are we progressing when we carry on as I have been describing? We need accountability in everything that we do. I applaud the Hon. Mwonzora for moving this motion because he had observed the problems that we have been highlighting.

MR. SHOKO: Most of what I wanted to say has been already said. The question of land is a real important issue in any society. From time immemorial wars have been fought over the land issues -and in this country not too many years ago - on the other side, there are a number of hon. members whom we fought together with in the war of liberation and land was exactly what was the aim of that war.

One of the fundamental reasons why men and women took up arms to fight the colonial government was because we wanted to liberate the land. But then the liberation of the land alone would not have been enough. We also wanted to install democratic institutions in the country. I am coming to that because it is important with regards to the land reform programme that was in place recently. Some of us thought that the reform programme was flawed because it was not considering the reasons why we took up arms and fight the colonial government.

We need to be democratic in this region of land. Right now as I speak, something like 80% of the people owning farms today may not be genuine farmers. There are mere politicians on the land to burn grass and to hunt. We must know that land is now in our hands and we should as a nation take this opportunity and make sure that we are able to feed ourselves. Once we do not believe that we are the owners of the land we become masters of that land then there is a lot of hunger and starvation and many problems that are normally associated with poverty in the country.

I believe that the motion that was raised by Hon. Mwonzola is a very good motion. It touches on something that directly affects the ordinary man and women in the rural areas. We may say no we cannot challenge the distribution of agricultural inputs - but that may be something very bad to do - people in the rural areas are wiser now. Shoko may be a member of Parliament for an urban constituency, but he was born and grew up in the rural areas and sometimes travels to his rural home to see what is happening there. I have all those reports and sometimes I have had that the distribution there was done wrongly. I believe that the manner in which these things were distributed was wrong. I believe that the army may not be the best people to distribute agricultural inputs. - [HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -

THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order, hon. members.

MR. SHOKO: Madam Speaker I was saying the army is not the best people to distribute these inputs especially in the highly politicized economy like we are today. I think this House has not commended the partisan distribution and politicization of the allocation of land where this is done, and if that is done, then I begin to say the distribution of land must be demilitarized and also de-politicize the allocation of agricultural inputs and a lot of other things we are doing wrongly.

Let me end by looking at what Hon. Mangwana has talked about. He talked about impelling banks to fund agriculture. That may sound quite noble, but I believe what we should do is making funding agriculture attractive. If we do that we don't compel, they will find that they will want to fund agriculture because it is attractive rather than compelling. If we think that because we are a government then we can compel everybody to do a, b, c then we are wrong. We must create an environment that makes things attractive.

I think the distribution of agricultural inputs remains a very big problem but we may perhaps distribute inputs through non-politicians army and police, but like what Hon. Mangwana has said, we have to distribute through the normal channel through the business people that is shops and supermarkets. We can only do that if we uproot the cancer of corruption.

MR. BHASIKITI: Thank you Madam Speaker I want to give my support to this motion which realizes that agriculture is the back borne of our economy and hence the land reform because you cannot separate the two. We should bear in our minds that that effort is not a small one or an easy task because it involves empowering every able farmer in the country to contribute meaningfully on wealth creation through agriculture. Hence the motion stipulates that it is important that the farmers be accorded the inputs in time and the necessary training in order to efficiently and profitably produce.

I would not waste time on discussing why the inputs were distributed by the Maguta programmebecause that was made irrelevant by this global political agreement. We cannot waste time over time. We now need to focus on what are the best methods that can help our farmers. Our farmers need to realize also that they benefit in agriculture there is benefit in Zimbabwe crop production but for a long time they have grown these crops and realizing little benefit when they sell at the market because of our price structure. The price structure of the farmers' commodities should be reviewed and be properly arranged in such a way that it would motivate individual farmers to even look for their seed and even going to buy seed where it is because they will know that they will realize the benefit. We also need to educate our farmers. I would suggest that they be streamlined to specialization. We have tobacco growers, they know when to grow their crop seed and how to get their crop right on time.

We have cotton growers. For quite sometime this group of farmers was just organized by buyers of the product which is a great danger to the farmer. But, I am happy to point out that I saw one example of farmers now organizing themselves in Manicaland area, Masvingo and Matabeleland South. They groom themselves and call themselves South East Cotton Growers Association. Now for bargain purposes for their prices, they can sit down and put their prices and sell together at one price. It is important and this is what I think we should encourage even the maize growers. They should not just belong to Farmers Union and blanket all the farmers who grow maize and those who specialize in rapoko and millet. Let us have specialization in these types of crops and have effective representation and effective ways of monitoring how seed can be given to each and everyone of these farmers.

It is important that we empower each and every farmer as per their own specialization. We should not cry foul on the seed houses. These are business entities and one best way to monopolize the whole business and to create a shortage and realize the prices will go high, I will challenge the Ministry responsible to create local seed houses in their own areas. It is important to curtail these shortages. We do not need any seed maize coming from SEEDCO, we do not need that, neither do we need rapoko to come from any private company, rather we organize our constituencies and to realize the importance of the crops and how it is important to select the right crop and keep it aside for seed. I think it will help our people.

I am talking about things which we have practiced and which we continue to practice in our areas. Madam Speaker, I think it is important to capacitate our farmers in that direction and also given that we are now focusing on the year 2010 Agricultural Season which is coming, it is important that we also get the prices for these crops much earlier so that people can plant in time. That will give them a benefit over the other crops. This is what I thought the motion should also carry with it. I do not think we can over debate on the irrelevance or how unrealistic it is for members of Parliament to distribute seed or the Councillors. It is not our business and I think that is the business of Agricultural Extension workers who can assist the farmers to make better choices for seed and see how much seed is required in their areas not the hon. members of Parliament.

I said that has been taken over by the GPA's and so it is history. Madam Speaker, I still feel this is an important motion which members of Parliament can search on slightly. If they have less time to respond to it now because when we go empty of facts, then we fill in the vacuum by the noise as was experienced in the first part of this motion. We do not want to have such important motions messed up by empty vessels of the mind.

MR. F. M. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I need to congratulate all hon. members here who were not appointed as Ministers. The reason is that you have to support this House because when you become a Minister, you might be stifled by that position. So I can see bright and very intelligent people here who could have qualified to be appointed as Ministers but for the reason that this House has to live, that is why we are here. Thank you all hon. members here, you are doing very well.

Madam Speaker, I have just stood up to contribute on three things. A family that depends on handouts will continue to live in a vicious circle of poverty and corruption. Hand out syndrome vis-à-vis donor syndrome creates the following: vicious poverty, vicious circle of begging, and poverty in essence and dependency syndrome. If you see a donor that is in Africa for more than 5 years, it would have failed. The donor philosophy is to empower people so that they are self sufficient, they think on their own hence they become emancipated. What is the role of donors' vis-à-vis handouts? It is a concept that we inherited just after independence where people were given gifts, food, inputs, cattle and at the end of the day that concept became a norm for Zimbabweans. I know a lot of people who had cattle in my area, who were good producers of grain, come selling season; they would sell everything except few bags for consumption. As we progressed, the same people were going to the Chiefs and Councillors to ask for food. This concept of donor syndrome has destroyed Africa. We should create wealth by our own ingenuity and initiative. Madam Speaker, what is the role of the member of Parliament? It is to represent the constituency, to legislate, to formulate policies and oversight. I do support Hon. Mwonzora's view that the elected people should be involved. They should monitor the operations in their constituencies. You can not do an oversight when you do not know what is happening. We do oversights with the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and with parastatals so that we get to see if they are doing things properly. Therefore, this august House should pressurize government not to induce people by handouts. Handouts are always seen during campaigns but we have taught our people to accept handouts but vote as they wish. So now you see a paradigm shift in that people are aware that you can eat and vote where you like. Let us then devise a method to assist people without means. Once you give them seed money for one season, it is then going to be a vicious circle for 25 - 26 years and we are doing a disservice to our people.

There are people who are in this House with businesses and driving posh cars who in times of handout distributions are the first in the queues. Hon. Mangwana was talking about positions - he said you can use your position to change people's perceptions. If Ministers would also go and queue they would always displace the peasants. As a matter of fact, we are now in an inclusive government. We should be rational and also be discouraged from begging for things that we can create. I believe handouts are for the old and disabled but not too much because even the disabled need to be empowered. How can you give handouts to hon. members or to a young man? At the end of the day he is getting 20 tonnes of fertilizer, 20 tonnes of seed maize and the following season he is again queuing for some more. I think selfishness is uncalled for. We have to feed the people and give handouts only to those that are really in need.

MR. MUKANDURI: First I want to thank hon. Mwonzora for introducing this very important motion. We are all aware that agriculture is the backbone of our economy. I think we should not be partisan when dealing with issues that are very important to our society. I generally agree with what he has said here but there are certain areas where I differ with him especially when he said councillors and members of Parliament should be involved in the distribution of inputs.

We do not want to create problems for our elected leaders because we create corruption which is a societal evil. So if they are involved, then the executive's role would have been taken over. There are different roles for everyone, we are legislators and we do just that.

We have an inclusive government with a Prime Minister and Ministers. The Prime Minister's job is to follow up on his Ministers and make sure they are performing. If he does not do his job, we will take him to task. We do not want to create politics of nepotism in order to buy political support. There is corruption and stealing of societal assets. Therefore, we should be very specific as to who should be doing what.

The Minister of Agriculture and his team are the ones responsible for agriculture and the inputs. If they fail, we will take the Minister to task in this House.

Some people have been talking about land and I honestly support them. Many Zimbabweans fought and died for this land and they were being called terrorists and doing Jambanja for the liberation of this country. Soon after independence, people were promised that there was going to be a willing buyer willing seller but this did not work so people resorted to grabbing the land because people should have got land. The way it should have been distributed is another issue.

The last speaker mentioned a very important issue about the dependence syndrome. We should try to move away from this system. We have had donors for so many years, they should empower our people by giving them seed but not to give them food every year because they need to grow and be self reliant.

In conclusion, I want to urge the executive and the Minister of Finance to find resources to buy seed which should be put in shops in every rural business centre so that all those with money will be in a position to buy seed. Of course I am aware that there are disadvantaged groups in our societies. These should be supported by the people who are able, especially members of Parliament must not be given seed for free. In conclusion we should take this motion seriously and we have to meet this in a logical manner so that we resuscitate our economy.

MR. DZIRUTWE: The idea in my mind cannot be touched, but I want to point out one or two things. The mover of the motion has come up with a very interesting subject. Some say members of Parliament should not be involved in the distribution of inputs or assistance in their areas but others are saying they should be involved. I say that they should be involved to a limited extend. In fact since there are PCICs we should have data bases of people who need aid in the form of seed, inputs or whatsoever it could be. That will be their involvement. Whoever is coming with seed should compare notes with the information they get from the executives in the area. They will know who needs assistance in the constituencies and compare notes. Hon. Mangwana also came up with a good idea when he said agriculture become an expensive business if all farmers are funded. The Minister of Finance, Minister of Industry and the Minister of Agriculture must find some ways to inject some resources to the disabled so that in the next season, everything must be in operation. When I was growing up, I come from Mutasa at Watsomba though I am a member of Parliament for Glen Norah - we always had seeds on time. Those who came before us began to give seed considering political affiliations and they ended up giving seed to those who did not need it. We as politicians have to keep our house in order to say the way to get votes is not through giving food and seed to the people, but we have to give those who would be in hard times. It is possible that one family that needed seed in the past two years might be okay now. Some could have some drought in certain areas and they may qualify for aid. This is where members of Parliament really should come in and help. We have to make sure that those who are given really deserve.

Our people out there do not mind coming to ZFC to get their fertilizers and many of the families out there can afford to buy five to six bags of fertilizers but the problem is that it is not there. Let us agree that we get the industry that produces the inputs working. SEDCO and others should be supported to make sure that they grow seed. Those who grow should be given even five tractors and we should not mind since we cannot afford to give farmers inputs because we will struggle.

MR. CHINYADZA: Madam Speaker, I stand to thank the movers of this motion. The motion was well structured and their presentation was extremely good and the motion they moved is very important and I think it is very critical to discuss this issue. I may want to remind the august house that when discussing the issue of food security, we once discussed or a similar motion in this House a few months ago. There has been a discussion in the relevant Portfolio Committee. The issues which are crucial as far as I am concerned are the issues of food security, the issue relating to civilian function, the issue of corruption, the issue of lack of forward planning and at times provision of agricultural inputs. These usually affect the disadvantaged rural farmers together with the issues of transparency. Madam Speaker, the state of corruption is very bad. I was very perturbed when Hon. Mangwana stood up to say that shortages cause corruption but the reverse is also true. It emanates from certain people who looked like us who would use the situation. When this country was allocated foreign currency to import fertilizer some time ago, as an example, the Governor of the Reserve Bank issued a license to somebody who was basically corrupt and he ended up importing sand instead of fertilizer. This is an example of corruption which has nothing to do with the shortages. It was not shortages but it caused the shortages. To assume the fact that we do not have corruption because it has caused all shortages, the house should face facts. Corruption in my constituency is rampant. I am aware and I do report for the purpose of food security that we have a lot of people like Chirongoma who have been used by the government that was at that particular time to distribute fertilizers and agricultural inputs to people in that constituency. He ended up selling some agricultural inputs and giving agricultural inputs to politicians and the people who actually suffered are the real farmers. The scourge of corruption is rampant all over even among very senior government officials. One of them actually burnt some fertilizers and one of them sunk some fertilizers in the river when it was quite apparent that some people were going to come and look at their farms.

This is very serious and we need to deal with this problem. We also know that many fertilizers and agricultural inputs came in from the SADC and the criteria they used to distribute these was not up to scratch, so these people need to be looked at very carefully. Madam Speaker, when we look at the issue of distribution of agricultural inputs, we should look around who should receive these inputs. I think the motion is very clear because it talks about the disadvantaged rural farmers. In fact, if we look into who is going to benefit on this programme - we are well aware that these people are going to access inputs from the market and that is something that is policy.

Secondly, when we look at these disadvantaged rural farmers it affects my constituency very gravely. Once you have got supplies, people are not able to buy because they do not even have a dollar for milling maize that they receive from the donors. The money is not there. So, we cannot be in a situation where we can say to ourselves there is food security. We go back to the same situation where we have rains but there is no food in the fields. We need to look at the issues of income in the rural areas before we can talk about whether agricultural inputs are essential or not.

The motion also talks about forward planning - I think that is very crucial. An hon. member yesterday asked the Minister of Education about the materials required in schools and he answered that it is not his responsibility but it is the Minister of Finance's responsibility. This is because he does not have funds for forward planning at the proper time. He cannot commit himself because he does not have anything - he has to wait for the allocation.

There should be a criteria suitable to identify those who should benefit and those who are not included will know and will be advised in time for them to prepare for the farming season.

I would like to come to the other point, which I think I gravely touched. It is the issue of the remainder of people who may not benefit from this scheme. Most of the people living in the rural areas cannot afford to buy a packet of fertilizer or 10kg of seed. The question is what are we doing about it? I think the government should monitize the rural community through public works. They can put money in the pockets of the rural people and I am not suggesting that people should continue receiving donations otherwise go back to the donor syndrome as Hon F Sibanda was saying.

Madam Speaker, my contention is that we should look at this problem holistically and not wish-away the discussions, but we should be able to make decisions which will make a difference to this country. I thank you.

MR MADZIMURE: I just want to add voice to this important motion. I used to work for the GMB before I became an MP. Most of our maize used to come from the small-scale farmers especially those who were organized in the early 1980s into what we called resettlements because the selection process, which was used to identify the farmers was relying on what they used to call the master farmers. These were the farmers who were allocated farms and they knew exactly what to do when they went to the land. Because of that, we ended up building silos in areas where these small farmers dominated. These areas included Murewa, Mutoko, Magunje, Chiweshe and Mukwichi silos. All this was because of the way the farmers had been identified.

Madam Speaker, the issue of food security is very important because we all have to link food security to food sovereignty.

If we are not secure in terms of foodif you do not have any food reserves Hon. Made knows that we used to have what we call, the reserve of Grain Marketing Board (GMB). We used to have a certain level at which we would then figure out action to import seed based on these levels, and we would actually go to GMB and physically inspect because we used to produce reports which used to be debated in Cabinet from the Grain Marketing Board. If that was done, every Tuesday of the year, we produced those reports and were taken to Cabinet by the Minister of Agriculture.

If you do not have food security, you are exposed to everything that the donor can do with you. They can influence you and you cannot blame them because you do not have, you have created an opportunity where they can do whatever they want with you so you cannot blame them. That is, they can also detect to you on policy matters, which policy to take and you can again not say, we are disagreeable to the policy because you want it help. You expose yourself to things like GMOs, like this year - we do not know the seed that we planted because we ended up planting any seed that we came across. There is a danger that after this harvest, we have different types of seed which people are going retain because obviously there is no seed at the moment. The seed harvest cannot produce reasonable seed, the other reason being that our farms are not stable. What is happening in the farms is too chaotic and there is continuation of that practice. So, we will not have enough seed for the coming season. This will force people to use whatever seed they come across and there is the danger that we may end up with a very poor seed variety which would take us a long time to recover. We may address other issues but we still will not be able to harvest enough good seed.

I want to move to the issue of the provision of inputs and timely provision of such. We have always had the problem that we tend to forget that seeds are God given; as a result we must be able to tell when each seed will be made available. I do not think seed should be made available to the Reserve Bank or even to the Ministry of Agriculture. Seed must be available or inputs must be available in shops. When I was growing up, I used to know that when the season begins, you evenly harness your donkeys - the father harnessing the donkeys- and on his way to the field he will send a young boy/girl to the shops to buy fertilizer, maize seed or whatever seed he wanted. That seed was available and you would say exactly, do you want 301 or R what or specifically for the type of the area which you are going to plant the seed. That is where we must go back to and move away from the system of people being given the handouts because what then happened was, after the system was introduced, it was a system of patronage. People destroyed all other systems and the reason was very clear. Once you destroy all other systems, you can now do whatever you want. Corruption can now thrive.

Right now, it is difficult to know who was given seed, who was not given seed. What person was given and whether that person is going to give back the seed - you know - it is all confusion. You will find the richest getting the most seed, the person who can afford to buy the Central Business District (CBD) of Harare. You go to GMB and you are told that this parcel is going to chef-so-and-so, year-in year-out and then people expect a country to survive. I used to hear people saying, in this House, a country will never go broke but now we know that a country can get broke. As members of Parliament, we are now getting nothing which means we have got there.

Let us remind each other that if a country can get broke, purely because of that you give this person seed who goes and sometimes keeps it in the sheds until its life-spun expires. Some people did not even know how to use the inputs and because of that, we were depriving the people in the rural areas who used to supply the entire nation with food. They had to secure their families first before selling. During my days at primary school, I used to know that during the harvest, my mother would take some groundnuts to the shops for selling and would pay our fees and buy our school uniforms with proceeds but this has completely disappeared from our society - there is no rural farmer nowadays who can afford to do so. Why? Because the rich A2 farmers are now the beneficiaries of this system, we are all subsidizing the A2 farmers. I do not think that is proper.

The issue of distribution of inputs to the A2 farmers must come to an end because they are the people who submitted forms on the basis that they can afford to do so but you find those same people asking for it. We also have some high ranking officials, who doubled as farmers. If you have got a farm and you are a Permanent Secretary, you have to choose whether to be a Permanent Secretary or to go and farm. If we continue operating this way - using the cell phone - there will never be food security in this country because the unfortunate part is that those are the people that occupy the most fertile land since they have the access due to corruption. I do not think that is proper.

Food distribution, when there is need to do so, I remember we had the biggest famine and I do not think what we have experienced is even near what we experienced in 1982. I used to work for the Grain Marketing Board. What we tried to do, was to make food available so that people could buy their own food from the shops - [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections] - If I appear to be a carrier, you can say that but I think, I am much better than you are. So, Madam Speaker, the issue of patronage is what caused the syndrome of handouts because people wanted to get mileage but from what I have seen, actually, you lose support due to that. It is impossible for you to give a bigger population, once you are able to do then it means there is no food shortage. With food shortage, you will always give less people and you are giving out the most and will never be voted for and win on that basis. This is exactly what we are now seeing.

The policy for patronage will only enable you to feed a very small population as the majority will remain hungry and team up against you. This is what we are seeing right now. As far as the solutions are considered, there is need to quick start seed production and this can be done by targeting farmers. This must be a one-off thing; the farmers are like any other business persons, when I want money, I go to the bank. When I get anything from the business, I put the money in my pocket. These farmers also do that. No one gives money to the government, it is their own money. Because they are business people, they must not enjoy the tax payers' money. I think, we are witnessing what is happening in America were some Banks want to pay huge bonuses to their Chief Executives and people are saying, there is no way you can do that. When you give people seed, they produce and then demand higher prices. So, it is a matter that these people are given inputs they must be prepared to produce.

Madam Speaker, there is also the issue of security of tenure to those farmers. Every farmer must be secure wherever he/she is and it is a matter that you know that this farmer will be there. He, in turn, will know that he will be there for the nation rather than to have that person always jittery afraid of being removed. Even if you are a resettled farmer, you must be secure. It must be known that you are there forever. There must be seed at all outlets, Hon. Made is here. When we get into June/July, we must start seeing pockets of seed in our shops. I want to buy for myself and plant on my small piece of land. I do not want to be given anything; I will raise my own money so that I can buy.

Finally the use of elected officials - it is important as hon. Sibanda said because they know the people in the rural areas. When the time comes we should not use political structures to do so.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (MR MADE): Thank you Madam Speaker. As Minister of Agriculture, I just want to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Mwonzora, seconded by Hon. Mudiwa. Indeed the issues that have been debated here by hon. members are issues that have been debated honestly and very openly. I can only say as Minister of Agriculture, I stand to benefit immensely as we move to prepare for the season.

My only appeal is that when we look at the issue of inputs, the demand is big. Just to give an example, which is already in the STERP document, for us to be effective, we need fertilisers to the tune of 600 metric tonnes each in terms of AN and Compound D but given what we have gone through, given the bigger figures that have been distributed over the past couple of years; sometimes 50 metric tonnes of fertiliser per season, that shows that we have to do a lot of work so that we can be able to have enough input. I only want to emphasise and refer back that during those years that we did better and as referred to during the hunger times, for example the year that we did get the hunger price, the major players were agro dealers in actual fact. Over the years, you would be able to buy your fertiliser or seeds as resources permitted you. I want to remind hon. members that the time that we do intervene in terms of farmers being pardoned in terms of the capacity to repay are during droughts because some of the droughts are so severe that you really need sometime to support the farmers by giving them an opportunity to recover.

Equally so, I want to emphasize that on small grains, if you look at the southern parts of the country, if the drought fund failed to import additional seed you will find they might not be having additional seed because of the drought that would be severe there. I also want to appeal generally that in debating, when we look at the system that we were using to distribute inputs, let us not paint institutions that support the programme - [HON. MEMBERS: Masoja] - that is exactly that I am talking about. You have to listen to the points that I am making.

When you are making a general statement, you must make reference to all institution that are corrupt but we should not blanket the entire national institutions that they are corrupt. I am making this contribution in all earnesty as I have said that the motion is well crafted. We are the wiser were we should go. I wanted to end by saying that the issues that we give a nod to are those issues that have been indicated and ideas that have been given are well supported from both sides of the House.

I now move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 31st March, 2009.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT , the House adjourned at Twenty One Minutes past Four O' clock p.m. until Tuesday, 31st March 2009.

Last modified on Thursday, 14 November 2013 09:48
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National Assembly Hansard Vol. 35 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 26 MARCH 2009 VOL. 35 NO. 26