‘Command Agriculture is for power consolidation’-ZDI study

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

The Zanu PF-led government’s Command Agriculture Programme(CAP) has failed to meet its objectives but is being used for power consolidation during the post-Mugabe era.

This was revealed on Wednesday in the capital during the launch of  Zimbabwe Democracy Institute(ZDI)’s report on Command Agriculture titled ‘Command Agriculture –Post Mugabe Authoritarian Consolidation, Zimbabwe’s Political Moral Hazard’

The ZDI director Dr Pedzisayi Ruhanya   said the report   shows   the involvement of the military in the President Emmerson Mnangagwa initiated programme .

“The report presents research findings and discussions on the involvement of the military in agriculture through the Command Agriculture Programme(CAP),”revealed Dr Ruhanya.

According to  ZDI’s  principal researcher Bekezela Gumbo   highlighted that the command agriculture programme is blighted with a lot of secrecy.

Command Agriculture as a government programme has been surrounded by secrecy and negative speculation,” cites Gumbo.

Some of the key findings  in the  report revealed that despite the introduction of the programme , maize deliveries to the GMB have plummeted.

“Despite subsidies in form of the CAP inputs, maize deliveries to the GMB have shown a continuing declining trend from the quantity delivered in the 2016/2017 season. In the 2016/2017  season ,maize deliveries to the GMB were reported at 1,2 million tonnes  in the 2017/2018  season 1.1 million tonnes while in the 2018/2019 season ,maize deliveries plummeted by 78% to 247,242 metric tonnes of October 2019,’.

Furthermore, ‘there was a remarkable increase in government spending from 48,5 %(2015/16) to 76.7%(2016/17) to support the food insecure population’.

While the ruling party has bemoaned  erratic rains due to El Nino drought and climate change as the major impediments  of the Command Agriculture Programme, the ZDI research refutes the assertion.
“Although poor rainfall was cited as among causal factors leading to the decline in maize deliveries to the GMB, most respondents (70%) pointed to the declining purchasing power of the procuring price offered by GMB meaning CAP has failed to entice farmers to deliver grains to the GMB,”.

The report suggests that the Command Agriculture Programme ‘is seen as more of a political project for the ruling elite and securocrats. Its main aim is to foster a post-Mugabe authoritarian consolidation and augment state capacities for the same through coercion of rivals ,extraction of revenue, registration of citizens and cultivation of dependency’.