Govt food handouts: a Zanu PF weapon for abuse of rural electorate

…formation of MDC changed the Government programs to suit Zanu PF political campaign strategy

By Jeffryson Murisi David Chitando

The greatest weapon of mass destruction against democracy in rural areas by Zanu PF is abuse of food handouts. Government agricultural inputs and food handouts are Zanu PF AK 47 for rural votes. Unless and until Zanu PF and government programs are separated food handouts will be used by the ruling party to “rig, bribe and coerce” rural voters to vote for Zanu PF.

Zanu PF Government has failed to empower rural communities to be self-sufficient or self-reliant. The 40 years Zanu PF has been in power has made the rural people dependent on food and agricultural inputs from Government.

Whilst the program of agricultural inputs is aimed at increasing food production in rural areas the opposite has been true.

In the early 1980s when rural communities used to buy subsidized agricultural inputs from shops harvest was fairly encouraging. GMB had various buying centre points in rural areas.

The introduction of free selectively politically driven agricultural inputs handouts given to rural farmers harvest has drastically reduced. The government used to subsidize seed at manufacturing point for every farmer to afford. The price of seed was affordable and farmers were able to prepare for their next agricultural season on time.

The formation of the MDC changed the Government programs to suit Zanu PF political campaign strategy. The Government abandoned the subsidizing of seed at manufacturing point instead bought all seed to dish out to farmers. Zanu PF knew that by having farmers freely buying seed from shops would make it difficult to attach Zanu PF to the Government program. The agricultural inputs were conveniently named “Presidential Input Scheme” as though the inputs were bought from the President’s personal savings. Why not call them “Government Inputs Scheme?” Zanu PF knew its implications to name and attach the President to the scheme. The Zanu PF political chefs and structures were to be involved in the distribution, selection of beneficiaries and politicization of the agricultural inputs.

The seed which was left in shops was not subsidized making it beyond the reach of many rural people. This strategy turned Zanu PF into the messiah. Supporting Zanu PF was made materialistic and strategic for rural farmers.

The worst was when Zanu PF Government created Maguta and Champion Farmer organs to oversee the distribution of seed in rural areas. The two organs were headed or staffed by retired and serving army members. Zimbabwe agricultural inputs and food handouts were turned into highly political and military operations.

The agricultural inputs were normally given out late after the planting season had begun when the farmers were in desperate need of seed. This made Zanu PF to be looked upon as the most caring, loving and concerned political party. The rural people wouldn’t know that their problems were created by Zanu PF.

ZanuPF knew that giving the agricultural inputs late would make the chances of poor harvest was more than 75% .The people would not have enough harvest to last long so they will be in need of food handouts. Around June or July the people will begging for food.”Vaiva nemasunda chando chete chete” creating a never-ending cycle.

Until Zimbabweans are empowered by way of making it possible to buy seed in shops and over reliance on agricultural inputs from Government is removed, rural areas will continue to vote Zanu PF not because of their own volition.

NGOs have not done a good job as well in liberating rural people from Zanu PF-Government agricultural inputs dependence syndrome.

NGOs have targeted food handouts instead of concentrating on empowering the rural communities on food production. World International NGOs only surface during time to handout food aid instead of concentrating on agricultural inputs for the rural communities to be self-sufficient and avoid being abused by Zanu PF.

When election observer missions are told of how Government food handouts is used to subvert the people’s will they won’t be able to collect the data as it a lifetime problem-process.

Traditional leaders have also been roped into the illegitimate distribution of food handouts and agricultural inputs especially through the  Command Agriculture scheme.

Zimbabwe needs political reforms, electoral reforms, security sector reforms and traditional leadership reforms in food handouts and agricultural inputs distribution for free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

Masvingo Mirror