By Thatcher Tirivanhu
HARARE – Cotton and tobacco farmers across the country are celebrating the ongoing crackdown on corrupt officials by the Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission (ZACC) as it amplifies the restoration of sanity in parastatals.
Zimbabwe which is largely dependent on agriculture activities is bleeding from the corrupt activities of officials in the parastatals including the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (CCZ) and the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) which has seen a number of officials being dragged before the courts.
Recently the anti-graft body arrested (TIMB) chief executive Meanwell Gudu, Stewart Shanyuka and Andrew Matibiri for abuse of US$2.5 million meant for small scale tobacco farmers that had been released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The arrests come a few weeks after the Loice -Matanda -Moyo led body nabbed Gokwe Membudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Cottco official Pius Manamike, Maxmore Njanji and accomplices for stinking corruption which has seen the demise of the cotton industry and the subsequent suffering of farmers across the country.
“As farmers I would want to say we are very much behind the action of ZACC, over the years the industry has short changed farmers. The issues raised by ZACC against the TIMB executives are only the tip of the iceberg.
“We are in possession of facts and figures that reflects that the contribution of our members to national upliftment is being seriously stifled through a series of questionable acts, we would like to highlight that the TIMB had abandoned its mandate to grow the tobacco industry but had become a tool to further the interests of a few,” commented a disgruntled farmer.
Meanwhile, the majority of the cotton farmers who are supporters of the ruling Zanu PF party are demanding justice on the case of Njanji and other Cottco officials as they fear another catch and release style.
Recently, ZACC raised a red flag over fears that the case might be interfered with despite sufficient events against the officials.
“Cotton has remained a way of living for us since time immemorial, and we do remember back in the days that our fathers would be able to pay fees, buy cows, pay lobola and do all expected things in a normal rural setup through farming cotton.
“Over the years, things changed and we cotton farmers who form the basis of the support for the Land Reform program have remained impoverished, our children have stopped going to schools, our lives have become pathetic, yet our vote is needed in 2023, how do we vote for Zanu PF in that case,” said Stella Manjenjeka a cotton farmer in Mudzi.
The parastatal is being accused of distributing inputs meant for farmers to other people to feed political interests with allegations that Cottco through Njanji channeled hundreds of bicycles and knapsacks to non-cotton farmers in Chiweshe as a political grandstanding as Njanji eyes the seat in 2023.
Several cotton farming giants in the country like Mt Darwin, Dotito, Muzarabani, Dande, Gokwe, Mudzi and others have since shunned farming the crop due to less profits, delayed and underpayments despite the support rendered to the parastatal by government.
Though the arrests have been described as politically motivated, farmers have however celebrated the crackdown and the Court’s outcome remains detrimental towards the mobilization of 5 million votes for Emmerson Mnangagwa in the upcoming 2023 presidential elections as the Second Republic try to exercise its commitment in corruption fighting.