Stop marginalising Matabeleland in agric financing: MPs urge govt

Legislators from Matabeleland have challenged the government to stop marginalising the region in the financing of agriculture, especially crop farming.

This follows the government’s securing of a US$35.7 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the Smallholder Agriculture Cluster Project (SACP) IFAD.

The project, once approved by the Parliament, will be implemented in five, out of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces, namely: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North.

Debating on the project in the august House Thursday, lawmakers from Matabeleland questioned the exclusion of Matabeleland South from the project.

“Madam Speaker, in that I want to remind this House that Israel gets less rainfall than Matabeleland South and it has even less fertile soils than Matabeleland South,” said Umzingwane MP, Levi Mayihlome

“I was actually shocked over the weekend during the [ZANU-PF] people’s conference when I learnt that Mashonaland West delivers to (Grain Marketing Board) GMB over 366 000 tonnes of maize. Matabeleland South delivered less than 2 000 tonnes and this is the poorest region in this country.”

He went on further: “So my appeal to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement when such facilities come, let us bring everybody on board. Let us not give to the rich always, those who have the means and the facilities, who are already high up there. Let us remember that Matabeleland South has vast tracts of land in Beitbridge, Matopo, Insiza and Bulilima; maybe there is not much land in Umzingwane but there are farmers there and they need to be capacitated.”

He said Matabeleland South should be treated the same way other regions are treated in agriculture financing.

“Let us bring Matabeleland South to the level of Mashonaland West,” said Mayihlome.

“Otherwise I support this loan that will bring a change and a breath of fresh air to the investment in this country.

Hwange Central legislator, Daniel Molokele, said he was happy to see that one of the traditionally marginalised provinces, Matabeleland North, listed as one of the beneficiaries but was quick to say it would have been better if Matabeleland South had been included as well.

“My concern is that it should have been better if Matabeleland South was included because historically and presently, both Matabeleland North and  South are very marginalised especially from an agriculture point of view,” said Molokele.

“I would like to encourage the Ministry [of Finance] to consider including Matabeleland South. Beyond the issues of Matabeleland, I want to encourage them that in future when they are coming up with such loans, it is always prudent and advisable to ensure that all the ten provinces are included and benefit in one way or the other. The only difference should be the level of access to the loan for each province but to exclude five of the ten provinces, I do not think it is a wise move .”

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