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    Sunday, 17 April 2016

    Zanu PF in furore over Tongaat maize


    – The Minister of State for Masvingo, Shuvai Mahofa has barred two Gutu MPs from accessing harvested winter maize allocated to all of Masvingo's 26 constituencies in a move that has brought fresh fights to a Zanu PF already torn apart by factionalism.
    The maize came from the 1 169 tonnes harvested by sugar-giant Tongaat Hulett from its short term winter variety and allocated equally to the constituencies which are all in Zanu PF hands.
    Each MP was allocated 44.9 tonnes to distribute to the constituencies and this gives leverage to Zanu PF against other parties. However, Gutu South MP Dr Paul Chimedza and his Gutu East counterpart Tongai Muzenda had their lorries turned back at the collection point after Mahofa gave an instruction that they should not get anything.
    An irate Chimedza blasted Mahofa over her actions and wondered why she chose the two MPs for exclusion when there was a policy on how the maize was to be distributed.
    He also accused Mahofa of looting the maize by giving each MP 44 tonnes instead of the allocated 44.9 tonnes. He said Mahofa got 0.9 tonnes from each of the 24 MPs' allocation under the guise that this was for the disabled people when in fact it was maize that she was going to distribute and 'squander' the way she liked, said Dr Chimedza.
    He said Mahofa was going to end up with 23 tonnes from the 0.9 tonnes that she was collecting from each MP.
    Mahofa refused to comment when The Mirror called her on Tuesday.
    "I am not going to comment on that issue," she said before cutting her phone to a Mirror reporter.
    "I sent two lorries to collect Gutu South's 44,9 tonnes maize allocation at Triangle and the drivers were ordered back empty-handed. This is despite that I had paid to hire those lorries. Those dispatching the maize were told that they would be fired by the Minister of State if they gave the constituency's allocation to me.
    "Now she wants the people of Gutu South to pay $2 each in order to get the maize delivered to them and they cannot afford that. I was going to do it for free but she will make them pay.
    "She is punishing the people for rejecting her in 2008 in favour of an MDC T candidate," said Chimedza.
    Muzenda expressed shock at what he describedd as Mahofa's greedy, hatred and negative interference into the day-to-day running of constituencies.
    He said he enquired about his constituency's maize allocation and was told by the Provincial and District Administrator that the allocation had been collected by Mahofa.
    "I know she is trying to loot this maize and up to now the allocation has not reached the constituency. These people are criminals and rascals and I don't know why Mahofa wants to use Mandebvu in constituency business when he lost to me in primary elections," said Muzenda.
    Tongaat grew the maize a few months ago as part of its corporate social responsibility. The maize was for alleviation of the devastating effects of drought.
    The expected harvest from the 329 hectares was 1 300 tonnes but both Provincial Affairs Minister Shuvai Mahofa and Tongaat Hulett director Sydney Mutsambiwa confirmed that communities around Chiredzi stole the maize thereby reducing the harvest.
    Speaking at the handover of the maize, the Minister of Agriculture Dr Joseph Made said Masvingo province is one of the provinces affected by climate change and it was a blessing to have companies like Tongaat Hulett that heed Government`s calls for assistance.
    He said winter maize is achievable in areas like the Lowveld where there is enough irrigation water and appealed to Tongaat Hulett to continue assisting Government by planting maize on bigger hecterage.
    "We are here on a national exercise to receive maize grown by Tongaat. It was as a result of a request made by Government to them. The tonnage they get per hectare is excellent considering that this is a short term variety.
    ''Masvingo is one of the areas affected by climate change and it is good for the Government to have companies like this who assist the people when it matters most. My appeal to Tongaat Hulett is that if possible they could assist us again with another hecterage so that we continue with the maize project," said Made.
    Mutsambiwa said the whole project cost the company $470 000. There were 20 overhead irrigated fields from 5 sections of Triangle Estate and Mutirikwi Sugarcane Estate covering 329 hectares put under maize. He said his company did it as part of its social corporate responsibility to communities in Masvingo as well as a response to the clarion call made by Government.
    "Maize in Zimbabwe is a staple food with approximately 2,1million tonnes required every year. The unfavourable 2015/16 season made it challenging for Zimbabwe to meet its target. In January 2015 Tongaat Hulett was approached by Government through the Masvingo Provincial leadership to assist with food security by growing winter maize crop and as a company we positively responded by doing what you are seeing today.
    "The whole project cost us $470 000 and the average yield per hectare was 3,6. We were expecting 1300 tonnes but we actually got 1 169 due to theft by the communities as well as game and damage," said Mutsambiwa.local news
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