‘Barking’ Moyo tongue lashed
Zvamaida Murwira in HARARE and Africa Moyo in VICTORIA FALLS—
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday rebuked Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo over his attacks on Government’s Command Agriculture Programme, equating him to a barking dog that would not derail the programme.
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Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda also berated Prof Moyo for giving the impression of policy inconsistency through careless statements with potential to scare away investors.
Minister Chinamasa made the remarks during the National Assembly’s question and answer session, while responding to a question from Zvimba West legislator Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi (Zanu-PF) who sought to know why Government was not pulling in one direction over Command Agriculture.
Harare East legislator Cde Terrence Mukupe (Zanu-PF) had also asked Minister Chinamasa to clarify on the funding of Command Agriculture given that some Government ministers, especially Prof Moyo, were going on social media to attack the programme despite them being part of deliberations in Cabinet.
“The fact that some people are not in agreement is a non-event when the programme is moving well.
“Varikutaura imbwa dziri kuhukura,” said Minister Chinamasa in apparent reference to Prof Moyo who has relentlessly slammed the Government food initiative on Twitter.
Prof Moyo has been using social media to denigrate the programme, calling it “command ugly culture” despite him being one of the beneficiaries at his farm in Mashonaland Central Province.
He reportedly approached The Standard newspaper last week with a story attacking Command Agriculture, VP Mnangagwa and the programme’s financier, Sakunda Holdings, and reportedly assisted in the editing of the story.
Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga, war veterans and political analysts have called for Prof Moyo’s censure and urged him to resign if he does not agree with Government policies.
Minister Chinamasa said financial institutions that were initially reluctant to fund the programme, had already started coming on board, giving more credence to the programme.
“Following the success of that programme, we have begun to see commercial banks coming into play because these inputs must be paid up-front. Sakunda Holdings has started working with these commercial banks which are CBZ, Barclays and another one. Those who fail to repay would jeorpadise their chances of getting support in future,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said the programme had exceeded Government expectations despite some challenges that were faced.
The latest crop assessment has revealed that over four million tonnes of food crops were harvested against national consumption of three million tonnes.
Chitungwiza North National Assembly Mr Godfrey Sithole (MDC-T), asked what criteria was used to select Sakunda.
In response, Minister Chinamasa said any person or financial institution who was prepared to lend Government money at less than five percent interest rate and willing to be repaid after one year was free to participate.
“We are going to support 1,8 million household. We will also be going on command fishery, livestock among others, soya-beans among others,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Minister Chinamasa said he had established a unit in his Ministry to study the reports from Auditor General and determine how to respond to recommendations.
He was responding to questions from Glen Norah MP Mr Webster Maondera (MDC-T), why there was no action being taken against State entities that violated corporate governance procedures.
“I prefer that we get a draft of the Auditor’s report and then we can comment. We did not have the apparatus to read the report. It was only pressure from the public accounts committee that we put up a unit to study the report,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Speaking during his contribution on the role of Parliament in “the new normal economy” at the ongoing Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) annual congress in Victoria Falls, Adv Mudenda said it was unfortunate that some senior Government officials were complicit in stifling the free-flow of foreign direct investment into the country.
Potential and existing investors have previously complained that policy inconsistency, especially at top Government level, was central to the country’s failure to lure meaningful investors when regional peers, especially Mozambique and Zambia, were getting billions in FDI.
“There are talks about discord in policy,” said Adv Mudenda.
“The recent one is on Command Agriculture. Some people from the same Executive had sarcastically criticised that policy of production in agriculture.
“What message does this say to the outside world? Wrong signals as if to say we do not know what we are doing. When you drum drums, people dance to that tune and in Zimbabwe when our Government announces economic policies, Parliament, as representatives of the electorate expects consistency in policy pronouncements.
“Not only that, but also consistency in the implementation of those policies. Let us dance to the same tune of music if we are to achieve a ‘new normal’ in our economy.”
Adv Mudenda urged industrialists not to be silent when Government officials were causing policy divisions.
“Speak out and say ‘this is wrong’. We do not want people saying discord when we have been moving together in one direction,” he said.
Adv Mudenda warned that those bent on fomenting policy discord should expect a response, mainly from the electorate.
“Those so hitting the drums, expect the dancers to respond to the melody of the drum,” he said. “In this case, those who respond are in two categories – the electorate that put us into Government and obviously the people from outside the country – those that want to bring foreign direct investment.
“We want to hear one melody, one bass.”
The ZNCC congress, which was officially opened by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday, is running under the theme, “Consolidating the new normal economy through policy reforms”.
Prof Moyo has vigorously attacked Command Agriculture on his Twitter handle, describing it as “Command Ugly-culture”.
President Mugabe is on record saying Command Agriculture was a success and mainly responsible for the bumper harvest in the 2016-17 farming season.
Government has since stopped grain importation as the country harvested excess grain.