By Hatina Hamadziripi
POVERTY-STRICKEN greetings to all you sons and daughters of the soil as we wave good riddance to yet another year in which our beloved soil failed once more to feed its own children.
I’m talking about our land, which was supposed to be our prosperity, but continues to become our poverty. The land which once gave us the reputation as the bread-basket of the southern African region, yet today whose main meaningful contribution to the nation is the provision of burial ground for the people as they continue to perish with disease, hunger and poverty.
As we close yet another annual chapter of this Hondo Yeminda madness, why not look at some of the highlights that further confirmed the suicidal nature of this whole business.
The major one of course was the continued departure from the original mission statement of the exercise, from ivhu kuvanhu to ivhu kuvakuru as the politically connected bigwigs continued to grab the most fertile pieces of land for themselves, their wives, children, and girlfriends, you name it, naturally at the expense of the ordinary sons and daughters of the soil.
Diversion of agricultural inputs like machinery, fuel, seed and fertilisers to their multiple farms was their daily bread yet they hypocritically continued to parrot their dedication towards giving land back to its original owners, the majority!
Despite two land audits unearthing the multiple ownership scandals, lack of political will on the part of mudhara to put a stop to this unethical malpractice meant that these big chefs and axe-combatants (notorious for massive deforestation on the new farms) got away with theft, scot-free! The young-old man instead chose to devote most of his time to lambasting the Blairs, Bushes, McKinnons and the Tsvangsons of this world with his endless calumnies while his lieutenants were busy stealing the people’s land.
Sons and daughters of this land continued to get hungrier and hungrier, food continued to get scarcer and scarcer and yet they continued telling us to celebrate the gains and benefits of the land reform programme.
What gains, what benefits? How does the ordinary Zimbabwean benefit from massive yield declines in tobacco, cotton and horticultural crops, which constituted our predominant agricultural export products? What about the escalation of prices of basic food commodities, virtual dependency on donor aid and the massive impoverishment of the majority?
What’s there to celebrate?
Massive harvests of maize, wheat and horticultural products were witnessed in the past agricultural year, unfortunately mainly on television and radio. Farming programmes were basically showing harvests and lush-green crops from seasons of our yesteryears and still go on to claim that they were Hondo Yeminda benefits! Hamunyare! More yields were seen popping out of the circus-style jingles on television that must have been meant to be advertising productivity, but sadly advertised more of human reproductivity with sexually lurid dances leaving only a little about human sexual behaviour to the imagination.
Of course we won’t even mention how expensive the production and airing of these jingles were, yet sons and daughters of the soil were scrounging for inputs way into the new season.
Rhetoric continued to be the order of the day, with the big chefs encouraging the people kuti varambe vakashinga, yet they were busy eating the latter’s share of the national cake. Some even went as far as throwing away their tails and mentioning how organisations like Care International, World Vision etc were agencies of imperialism because they were buying people with food aid!
How diabolic to say that. How could they want to jeopardise the provision of what has become a lifeline for most Zimbabweans? Do they even care? After all, they don’t have words like hunger and deprivation in their dictionaries, only words like appetite and kuguta!
They have failed to feed us, yet they continue to bite the hands helping their own electorates. Speaks of hypocrisy doesn’t it?
Absence of clear and measurable land policies meant land continued to be underutilised and lying fallow, yet it’s the very same land that is supposed to be feeding us. Insufficient incentives on local markets meant the few who were producing commercially chose to produce for the export markets, a good example being in the seed production sector, among other sectors.
Call them unpatriotic, but patriotism haigutse! Patriotic convictions can not fill your tummy. Shuwa shuwa unless there is a massive turn-around strategy in our agricultural sector, we are headed for yet another hungry year, and God knows how many of us will come out alive. Lord have mercy on Zimbabwe!
* The author is a Harare-based agricultural researcher.