NORTON MP Temba Mliswa lampooned former Agriculture minister Joseph Made saying during his tenure he spent time managing former President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace’s farms instead of inspecting government agricultural projects at different institutions in the country.
Mliswa was contributing to debate on a motion on a report by the Christopher Chitindi-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture on command agriculture and agricultural colleges on Thursday when he alleged that agricultural colleges failed to perform because they were not properly supported or funded.
Another report which was published late month alleged that that Mugabe owns 13 farms, whose sizes are as follows:
1. Gushungo Estates 4046ha Mazowe
2. Gushungo Dairies 1000ha
3. MazoweIron Mask Estate 1046ha
4. Mazowe Sigaru Farm 873ha
5. Mazowe Gwebi Wood 1200ha
6. Mazowe Gwina Farm 1445ha
7. Banket Leverdale Farm 1488ha
8. Banket Highfield Farm 445ha
9. Norton Cressydale Estate 676ha
10. Norton Tankatara Farm 575ha
11. Norton John O’Groat Farm 760ha
12. Norton Clifford Farm 1050ha
13. Norton Bassiville 1200ha
"Government had become dysfunctional, and how do you run agricultural training institutions without a board? Made spent time at his farm instead of him spending time doing his ministerial mandate," Mliswa said.
"All he did was to go to Gushungo Dairies with foreigners, showing them Mazowe with the former First Lady Grace (Mugabe), but we never saw him going to tertiary institutions. I think his job was to work for the First Family," he said.
Mliswa said if command agriculture is to succeed, then every Zimbabwean regardless of colour or political affiliation should benefit and get inputs from the programme.
While presenting the committee report, Chitindi said farmers had experienced problems such as late distribution of inputs, while others had to travel long distances to collect their inputs.
"For example, Norton farmers collected their inputs from Chegutu, while Umzingwane farmers collected inputs from Filabusi and Gwanda. There was also a negative perception on command agriculture with one ward in Kwekwe, where only three people took up the programme, while others said they feared joining it because of the consequences that will be meted by the military if they failed to deliver," he said.
Chitindi said the name "command" had negative connotations to farmers, who thought that it was a military programme.
Southerton MP, Gift Chimanikire (MDC-T) said there is need for farmer training before people are given huge tracts of land to do farming.
He said the ruling party should desist from selective distribution of farm inputs, where opposition supporters were excluded from the presidential input scheme or command agriculture.
Uzumba MP, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF) said there is need to ensure fertilisers and herbicides are affordable. He said it is imperative for the government to come up with a policy to ensure supermarkets get their vegetable supplies from local farmers.
Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) said if Zimbabwe is to improve in farming and restore its lost glory as the bread basket of Africa, there is need to mechanise even peasant farming so that rural farmers use modern equipment to also increase their yields.