Villagers in Buhera West went back home empty-handed on August 9, after waiting the whole day at Buhera Office to receive heifers which were later distributed to Zanu PF politburo members and other bigwigs in the party only.
The 64 villagers were invited by the District Veterinary Officer, Dr Samson Chiduku to collect heifers allocated to them under the National Presidential Heifer Pass on Scheme, a programme meant to replenish the cattle herd that is being decimated by a tick borne disease known as bovine theileriosis or January disease.
After waiting almost all day, Buhera West MP, Saul Nzuma allegedly emerged out of a stakeholders meeting to tell the villagers to go back home as the date for the allocation of the heifers had been shifted to Thursday the same week because there was still some paper work to be done. Nzuma allegedly assured the villagers that every one of them was going to get their allocated heifer on Thursday.
The villagers were shocked when they returned on Thursday to be told that the heifers were distributed two days earlier on Tuesday.
The Mirror is told by sources that Zanu PF later changed a list of deserving beneficiaries compiled by Agritex and the Veterinary Department and replaced it with one that had Zanu PF party chairmen, an MP, Politburo members, councillors, chiefs, headmen and their relatives.
Dr Chiduku confirmed that the original list of beneficiaries compiled by Agritex, Vet Department and traditional leaders was altered by ‘stakeholders’ after it was described as lacking transparency. Dr Chiduku declined to give further comments. Efforts to get a comment from Nzuma were futile.
Dr Chiduku also declined to release the two different lists of beneficiaries.
Villagers who were supposed to receive the heifers declined to give their names for fear of reprisals.
“We were notified by Dr Chiduku that we should come on August 9, 2020 to collect our heifers as beneficiaries of the first phase of the heifer scheme. After spending almost the whole day waiting for the distribution, MP Nzuma came to inform us that the stakeholders had some final touches to do and we should come back on Thurs- day, he assured us that we do not have to worry as we were going to get the heifers,
“We came back to the centre on Thursday after hiring trucks for US$15 to transport the heifers but we were surprised to be informed that the distribution was done on Tuesday. We then called Dr Chiduku and he also confirmed that the distribution was done,” said the villagers.
The Provincial Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Guri told The Mirror that the right people to comment on the matter are those who changed the list.
“I cannot comment on that issue, the owners of the program are the ones who can comment on why the list of beneficiaries was changed. Our department’s job was to see that distribution was done properly,” said Dr Guri.
Ironically, three days after the distribution of heifers, Zanu PF national chairperson and Defence Minister, Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri and the Minister of State for Manicaland, Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba commissioned a Gazebo built by Nzuma and the latter thanked the ministers for the heifer scheme and added that the distribution was done fairly and farmers were happy.
“Farmers are happy, the distribution was done fairly and no one is complaining,” said Nzuma.