Zimbabwe’s minister of finance Mthuli Ncube has reportedly said that resettled farmers will no longer get assistance from government, as the programme was “riddled with corruption”.
According to Daily News, Ncube’s decision came after the dramatic failure of the Farm Mechanisation Scheme that was introduced by former president Robert Mugabe’s government in 2007.
The report said that more than $200 million that was pumped into the four-phase programme “did not produce any results”.
A number of unnamed political elites were said to have given themselves irrigation equipment, brand new tractors, combine harvesters and other farming materials.
The loans were never paid back, forcing lawmakers to recommend that they be written off.
Ncube, who is driving an economic reform agenda said the government, did not want to continue supporting the farmers, adding that they should find alternative assistance.
“Movement towards a market-based supply and demand driven approach would be more efficient and sustainable, and also reducing the greater burden of reliance on the fiscus,” Ncube was quoted as saying.
This came a few weeks after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said Zimbabwe had “immense potential to become Africa’s breadbasket”.
Sunday News quoted Chiwenga as saying that if farmers embraced government policies, particularly the Command Agriculture “and maximise on the use of local resources”, Zimbabwe would regain its status as the continent’s breadbasket.
He challenged farmers to “produce for export and contribute towards the 2030 vision for an upper middle class economy”.
Chiwenga’s sentiments followed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s remarks in May where he expressed confidence that the country had ended hunger through the introduction of the Command Agriculture programme.
“As the country continued to face persistent years of drought, we sat as government and said we are a blessed country tucked between Zambezi and Limpopo river so why droughts? We then thought of command agriculture and… the country is doing well in food security,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying by the Herald.
The main aim for the Command Agriculture programme was to ensure self-food sustenance after which exports would follow to help the country earn the much needed foreign currency.