BY KENNETH MATIMAIRE
THE Presidential Farming Inputs Programme popularly known as Pfumvudza has been used to fleece unsuspecting farmers through a well-orchestrated scheme involving thousands of United States dollars.
A total of 1,8 million tonnes of cereal and 360 000 tonnes of oil seed have been delivered to a registered 1,8 million families for 290 000 hectares countrywide.
This translates to 72 000 deliveries made by 30-tonne trucks to various wards across rural Zimbabwe.
Investigations have revealed that a syndicate of Zanu PF councillors conniving with Agritex officers and GMB staff have been demanding amounts ranging from US$1 to US$2 from each household to transport the inputs.
This means they have realised at least US$1 200 per truck. The loads consist of 600 by 50kg bags fertilisers which were transported at a cost of US$2 each.
Some 5 kg bags of maize seed, 2 kg of sorghum, 50kg of gypsum were some of the several inputs delivered.
“We were told that the government only managed to transport inputs to GMB depots and it was our duty as villagers to mobilise transport to our wards.
“I have paid for all the inputs I received because I was afraid of losing out. At one point I failed to receive inputs because I didn’t have the money,” said Farai Nyanguwo of Matiengane village at Matondo Growth Point in Chigodora, Manicaland.
Contacted for comment, Grain Marketing Board (GMB) chief executive officer Rockie Mutenda referred questions to the parastatal’s corporate communications officer Joseph Katete who had not replied by time of going to print.
However, Mutenda is on record saying GMB was responsible for transportation of inputs to centres as the programme is fully funded by the government.
Investigations highlighted similar occurrences transpired on October 25, November 20 and 21 last year at Chiwere Business Centre in Ward 34 under Odzi where 5 kg bags of maize seed were delivered. The ward has a total of 14 villages.
Other delivery points in Odzi include Nyagundi and Chinota.
“The committee pockets the money and shares it. I checked with some drivers who indicated that everything was paid for,” said a Zanu PF official monitoring the deliveries.
“In another incident I walked in on the committee sharing the spoils and they tried to bribe me.
“The transport costs are handled by a committee led by the councillor and subject to willful use of the committee. No audit or accountability measures are taken to ensure that the funds are used for intended purposes.
“Apart from purporting to pay for transport, the funds are used to pay community off-loaders, Agritex officers’ allowances as expenses incurred while arranging for the collection and distribution of goods from GMB. It’s not clear what happens to the remaining funds in the event there are balances.”
Apart from abuse of funds, there is also misappropriation of inputs as there is double dipping of farming inputs.
An intelligence source said rogue councillors will be blacklisted from contesting in the 2023 elections.
“There are growing fears that the abuse of the Presidential Inputs Programme can affect the performance of the party during the next polls. A lot of complaints were made,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Independent gathered that apart from intelligence officers, President Emmerson Mnangagwa also gave a green light to an organisation called In Defence of Zimbabwe Sovereignty Organisation (IDZSO) to investigate abuses of inputs distribution.
IDZSO wrote to Mnangagwa on November 25, 2020 asking for permission to investigate alleged abuses. The request was granted.
The team has already made headway in Harare but has been facing challenges in Manicaland.
IDZSO, has since written four complaint letters to the President accusing provincial police of failing to deal with alleged looters.
The organisation’s Manicaland chairperson Landmine Madongonda wrote on February 2, 2021, advising Mnangagwa to push the police to act on evidence provided “as we (IDZSO) are investigating the corruption made on the Command and Pfumvudza inputs”.
Mutare Rural District Council (RDC) chief executive officer Shepherd Chinaka confirmed that some farmers paid for the delivery of free government inputs.
“We received reports at our offices that some members of the community are being asked to contribute some money to ensure that the aid gets to their distribution centres.
“This is why we have raised this concern because we had prior knowledge that the government delivers for free. People are complaining about exorbitant charges,” Chinaka said.