Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
ZANU-PF has promised to empower youths, women, the disabled and the vulnerable through allocation of farms and residential stands as part of its efforts to ensure indigenous people participate in economic development.
In its 2018 election manifesto, the ruling party pledged to ensure youths, women and the vulnerable have access to funding for mining and agriculture.
Under the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy, the party pledged to “ensuring economic participation by the indigenous people by establishing special economic zones for the local, indigenous investors, prioritise farm land allocation to youth, women, the disabled and vulnerable, prioritise allocation of stands and houses to youth, women, the disabled and vulnerable and avail loans and equipment to SMEs, artisanal miners, farmers and offer skills development and training,” read the manifesto.
The party also aims to transform the agriculture sector through consolidating land ownership and security.
Agriculture economist Mr Midway Bhunu said the move to empower the marginalised in the society was noble considering that women were important in the production of food and the agriculture sector as a whole.
“Women contribute about 50 percent of the agricultural labour force in Sub- Saharan Africa with variations across nations. Women and youths contribution to food production is very significant but the major challenge is on ownership. Not so many women own land.
“From a gendered market analysis you will realise that while women and children work very hard to produce food, they have little or no control when it comes to marketing because the land belongs to men. Beyond production, their decision-making powers are reduced. So it is critical to have policies that deliberately prioritise women, the vulnerable groups and youths,” he said.
He said it was prudent for Zanu-PF to also provide support for the vulnerable.
“Support should be in the form of access to finance, markets and technical training on specific value chains that will bring out positive results through increasing their incomes.
“Gone are the days of talking about general agriculture. We are in an era of prioritised agricultural interventions where we promote value chains with high-income impact to the farmers so that they can export. That is real empowerment,” he said.
Zimbabwe Young Farmers’ Trust president, Mr Josephat Tanga, said empowerment of the youths was a good idea.
“This shows that President Mnangagwa is a listening leader who engages with the people despite their social standing. The party believes in the youths as the future of the country and this is evidenced by the various empowering projects and trainings for the young generation.
“By having access to land the youths will engage in economic empowerment projects such as horticulture. There should be a quota for the youths, women and vulnerable in all programmes even on Command Agriculture,” he said.
The party also promised to create jobs in agriculture along the value chain a