After months of propaganda extolling command agriculture as runaway success, the government last week joined hands with the United Nations (UN) and other partners to launch an urgent appeal for US$234 million to feed millions of Zimbabweans facing starvation this year.
According to the UN, a staggering 5,3 million Zimbabweans will need food assistance until June this year following poor harvests last season.
UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency affairs relief coordinator Mark Lowcock said the money would be used “to enable humanitarian agencies to provide time-critical and multi-sectoral assistance — including food, nutrition, water and sanitation and protection — both urban and rural areas.”
That Zimbabwe is facing a serious economic crisis that has seriously compromised the quality of life in both urban and rural areas is no longer debatable.
The country now has to frequently fend off outbreaks of mediaeval diseases such as typhoid and cholera every year.
Last year cholera killed over 100 people in separate outbreaks across the country.
Lack of proper sanitation has reached crisis levels in almost every urban centre in Zimbabwe due to years of neglect of infrastructure by central government.
However, in the past two years or so the government has been pouring millions of dollars into command agriculture ostensibly to end food insecurity.
Economists estimate that up to $3 billion has been given to companies behind command agriculture through debt instruments, which means future generations would have to pay up at some point.
The government has been proclaiming instant success in command agriculture and Agriculture minister Perance Shiri is on record saying the programme was here to stay because government had made its targets of ensuring food security.
However, Lowcock’s visit last week and the subsequent UN appeal showed that Zimbabwe is still struggling to feed its own people and claims that command agriculture has been a success are misleading .
The situation is worsened by the fact that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government does not appreciate the fact the mass starvation facing a huge part of the population is a result of its poor planning.
For the government, it is business as usual.
This is demonstrated by the top leadership’s love for luxurious travels with recent reports indicating that Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga could have spent as much as US$5 000 000 flying to India for treatment.
It is an embarrassment for a country with so much economic potential to be going around with a begging bowl to other countries to help feed its own citizens.
It is high time the government produced viable agricultural policies that will mitigate against climate change, which has seen a significant reduction in crop yields and stop burdening fiscus with communist programmes such as command agriculture.