George Maponga in Masvingo
Government has set up teams to spearhead the establishment of feedlots to provide supplementary feeding and stem the decimation of the country’s beef herd in five drought-stricken provinces.
The development comes as thousands of livestock, especially cattle, have succumbed to the prevailing drought that has caused an acute shortage of grazing pastures and water.
Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage Minister Abednico Ncube (pictured right) said this while addressing chiefs from Masvingo Province last week.
The teams have already been dispatched.
“Government has set up task teams for the establishment of feed- lots for supplementary feeding of cattle in Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and the Midlands provinces,” said Minister Ncube.
“I am advised that a sizeable number of cattle have died in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Manicaland provinces because of drought and there is need for our people in rural communities to even consider reducing the size of their livestock herd in the face of the prevailing drought.”
Minister Ncube implored chiefs to be at the forefront of encouraging people within their communities to sell their livestock to reduce the risk of losing all their cattle to drought.
He challenged chiefs to intensify the Zunde Ramambo programme in their localities to avert food shortages and help Government fulfil its goals set under Zim-Asset.
“I would also like to encourage chiefs to champion the shift towards small grains that are drought tolerant in their communities in the wake of changing weather patterns caused by global warming,’’ said Minister Ncube.
He warned chiefs against setting up traditional leadership structures in resettlement areas before the gazetting of those areas through a legal framework that is being drafted by Government.
Minister Ncube warned some chiefs against claiming to be paramount chiefs, saying that title did not exist in post-independent Zimbabwe as all chiefs were equal.
Government, added Minister Ncube, was in the process of mobilising enough resources for chiefs’ allowances, while engagement was also ongoing with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to avail resources to revive the vehicle scheme for traditional leaders.
This was after Masvingo chiefs led by Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira had appealed to Minister Ncube to push Government to buy them vehicles and ease the challenges they face.
The Masvingo chiefs also expressed concern that most of them were still to be allocated land under the land reform programme like their counterparts in other provinces.
The chiefs said they wanted to be allocated sugar cane plots in the Lowveld.
Minister Ncube promised to engage his Lands and Rural Resettlement counterpart Dr Douglas Mombeshora over the issue.