Midlands Bureau Chief
Zimbabwe’s small-scale miners and farmers’ organisations have described President Mugabe and Zanu-PF victories in the just-ended harmonised elections as a welcome development in the country’s economic revival efforts. In separate interviews recently, leaders of the Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Council (ZASMC) as well as that of Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) and the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) said President Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s victory ensured the continuity and sustenance of people driven programmes and policies.
ZASMC president, Mr Wellington Takavarasha, said the President Mugabe-led Government had set targets to ensure that by 2020 all illegal panners and small-scale miners would have been formalised.
“We stand to benefit a lot from a Zanu-PF victory as miners. A Zanu-PF victory is a victory for miners. The Zanu-PF manifesto dwelt a lot on the economic empowerment programmes and policies that the revolutionary party was already implementing. For example, Minister Obert Mpofu championed the cause of amakorokoza. He said illegal gold panners should not be arrested. The Government also took an undertaking that by 2020, it would have fully formalised all artisanal miners.
It is only Zanu-PF that can ensure this is implemented. We are happy as an association because we now have continuity of policies and programmes,” he said.
Mr Takavarasha said it was pleasing to note that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development had started formalising the mining sector well before the 31 July harmonised elections.
“We are being given licences to legalise our operations. It’s a win-win situation between the Government and us. We both benefit. The Government will benefit because we want to take our gold to Fidelity. In the past the Government used not to buy our gold because it was illegal. We also benefit because once issued with licences, we will not engage in running battles with the police,” said Mr Takavarasha.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Mr Wonder Chabikwa, said the economy was set for a boom since a Zanu-PF Government has always been supportive of agriculture, one of the pillars of the economy.
“Zanu-PF is the party that gave us land, it gave us inputs. We expect more support from the Government now that we no longer have the Inclusive Government some of whose ministers were against the land reform,” he said.
Mr Chabikwa said water was a precious commodity in agriculture and urged the Government to invest in irrigation infrastructure and water harnessing.
He said recurrent droughts due to climate change were making it difficult for local farmers to rely on dry land cultivation.
“We need to rehabilitate irrigation schemes infrastructure because cultivating crops under irrigation is the only way to counter effects of climate change. We should not be importing grain; we should produce and export food. We have good soils and we have the capacity to produce our own food. We need to set up new irrigation infrastructure in areas that have good soils because we cannot go on complaining about drought every year,” he said.
Mr Prince Kuipa, ZFU’s Chief Economist, said a Zanu-PF victory was good news because it was a party that spearheaded the land reform programme while preaching peace.
He said peace and land were critical ingredients in nation development.
“Now Zanu-PF can take the empowerment drive to another level. It needs to work on the 99-year leases for farmers so that they get real value out of their land. They need to use the land as collateral because banks are refusing to accept offer letters as collateral. The lease agreement should be made bankable and protect both the State and the beneficiary.
Banks should be empowered to support agriculture. One of the major constraints facing agriculture is finance. Financial institutions should be liquid enough to support agriculture. This can only happen if there are policies that promote the culture of banking,” he said.
Mr Kuipa however said as farmers they did not expect free inputs from the State but to be given support in the form of credits and bankable lease agreements.
He said there was also need to give equal support to agriculture’s supporting service providers and organisations that include the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and Agritex.
“We need to boost wheat production so that we are able to meet local demand and even produce surplus for export. Irrigation development is key… we should be shifting from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation. Rain-fed agriculture is not reliable,” he said.
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