MASVINGO – Davis Marapira, deputy minister of Agriculture, has warned that Zanu PF officials who abuse President Robert Mugabe’s farming inputs by selling them on the black market face jail.
In an address to scores of party supporters at the Masvingo President’s Well Wishers’ Inputs Scheme in Chikwanda communal lands on Friday, the deputy minister said the government will not hesitate to throw behind bars, all those who sell the inputs for personal financial gain.
Marapira’s calls come in the wake of reports that the inputs donated by Mugabe were not reaching intended beneficiaries and ending up on the parallel market.
“I am different to your old ministers and will do things differently,” Marapira warned.
“So I want to warn those that have been in the habit of selling these inputs that you will go to jail. If you see someone selling the inputs donated by the president, call me and I will send a driver to fetch cops to arrest that person.”
Marapira, who is also the Masvingo North legislator, has since ordered traditional leaders to back off from the distribution of the farming inputs amid corruption allegations.
The distribution is now done by government employees in the districts.
“The distribution will be done through the office of the provincial and district administrators with the help of Arex extension officers and should benefit everyone,” he said.
He said the scheme will benefit over 200 000 families in the province as thousands of tonnes of inputs will be made available.
Each farmer received 10kg bag of maize seed, sorghum and fertilisers, all supplied by SeedCo.
Marapira said the law will be applied without fear or favour.
“We are not going to let them walk free if they abuse our president’s scheme because this will be great betrayal to our leader and the nation,” he said. “People should benefit and plough their land to combat perennial food shortages that have been haunting the country over the years.”
The deputy minister’s call was welcomed by villagers who claimed that they have been sidelined by top political officials and traditional leaders in the distribution of the inputs.
“We support the minister’s calls and those who loot the scheme and later sell to us the intended beneficiaries should rot in jail because they are criminals,” said Tichafa Makura from Chikwanda.
“The scheme is clear it is for us the disadvantaged villagers who cannot afford the prices of seed and other inputs in the shops but the big guns divert the food and loot to make money.”
Other villagers said the minister’s distribution proposal to use civil servants and not politicians was a masterstroke.