REVELATIONS elsewhere in this issue that tobacco farmers have been struggling to access their monies after making deliveries demonstrate that exploitation is continuing in this sector.
Something is not right, especially among contracting firms because they are acting like fraudsters. Why have they not funded their accounts when they know that the marketing season has started?
Government must get to the bottom of this and in the end determine if the tobacco contracting model has benefited both sides. If contractors continue to behave like ponzi scheme bosses farmers must just stop delivering the crop.
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe should then investigate farmers’ complaints and tell them exactly what is happening and what steps are being taken to address their payments problems.
Sadly, this is really not new but a continuation of past attempts to steal from farmers.
There seems to be an elaborate scheme by contractors to collect tobacco first, get it processed and sell it then pay farmers. This is a very long process that must be discouraged at all costs.
It creates a generation of poor farmers.
Farmers are an afterthought in this game yet they toil for over a year preparing the crop expecting to earn a living out of their sweat in the end.
One thing to note is that while the manipulation goes on not much has been done to end the oppression.
Who are these contractors, really? Aren’t they the friends of the elite who have been invited to exploit a desperate funding crisis after which they share the spoils?
If the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is what it claims to be, it must immediately get down to work to understand who is doing what in this industry.
If these contractors had no links to bigwigs, action would have already been taken. Statutory Instruments would have been issued to protect farmers.
The mess must be cleaned immediately before farmers start side-marketing because they have families to feed and expenses to settle.
The temptation has always been to blame them without taking time to understand why they end up selling elsewhere contracted tobacco.
The explanation that there have been system failures in banks is not convincing. Banks have been parading top end technologies to demonstrate their capacity to handle transactions.
Perhaps someone could explain how an entire system would collapse and only be felt by tobacco farmers, while the rest of the economy transacts.
The solution to this lies in coming up with a law that spells out the rules of engagement and what action must be taken if one party fails to play ball. Otherwise the exploitation will continue.