THE Chronicle of Saturday, November 10 carried a story about the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Obert Mpofu, sourcing 30 tonnes of a scarce agricultural input, maize seed, for farmers in his constituency. He was himself pictured standing next to a d
elivery lorry at the local GMB depot.
It is indeed good for the minister to serve his constituency this way but some worrying questions need answers. First, will other MPs and senators representing their constituencies have similar access to similar quantities of maize seed to benefit their constituencies?
Second, which farmers in his constituency will benefit from this supply of seed? Will the minister give this seed to those farmers for free?
If not, what criteria will he employ to select the beneficiaries? Obviously the farmers in question do not require the same quantities of seed and there must be some difference in their treatment.
Third, what is the difference between what the minister has done and hoarding? The question is when commodities are this scarce, is this the best way of distributing those scarce resources?
Would it not have been better to distribute this seed via the normal channels so that every farmer has a chance to get something to plant, even if only little?
Fourth, why is this coming on the eve of an election? Why should the public not see it as vote-buying when the minister who is seeking re-election is seen distributing that seed to farmers who are starved of the same?
It is my humble submission that our MPs and senators do not have similar access to resources, especially where these resources are sourced by the state using tax-payers money. In particular, MPs and senators from the opposition are grossly disadvantaged in this regard. I want to guess that Mpofu used the heavier ministerial jacket to access this resource. Ministers should be beyond the limited constituency interest: indeed, they must serve the national interest.
I find it inappropriate that MP’s and senators are expected to develop their constituencies mostly on their own when there are full ministries responsible for those tasks.
This causes uneven distribution of resources which is seen in the marginalisation of whole constituencies and regions, because those that are in control will monopolise resources in the same way Minister Mpofu has done. In my view, commending what Mpofu has done is applauding blatant corruption.