The Sunday Mail
Itai Mazire and Lincoln Towindo —
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo is contracted to produce maize under Command Agriculture – a programme he has bitterly criticised on social media, The Sunday Mail has established.
It is understood that after voluntarily signing up for the programme, Prof Moyo has one of the best maize crops in the food-producing hub of Mashonaland Central, and senior Government officials could soon be visiting his farm for a field day where Command Agriculture will be celebrated.
The head of the province said Prof Moyo was behaving like “an MDC activist” by trashing Command Agriculture while at the same time benefiting from it, echoing sentiments expressed by one analyst in recent days that perhaps the minister was plagued by “pro-opposition demons” after having spent most of his adult life fighting President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
President Mugabe conceived and advanced Command Agriculture and the equally successful Presidential Well-Wishers Agricultural Inputs Scheme to boost national food security and reduce grain imports.
Information gathered by this newspaper shows that Prof Moyo put 140 hectares under maize at his 205-hectare Elephant Trust Farm (formerly Patterson) in Mazowe using inputs from Command Agriculture.
The minister and his wife, Beatrice, collected diesel, maize seed, fertilisers and herbicides from Grain Marketing Board depots in Concession, Mazowe, Bindura and Harare throughout the planting period.
The Sunday Mail could not, however, determine the total cost of the inputs he received as authorities are still collating figures.
Prof Moyo could not be reached for comment last night.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Minister Advocate Martin Dinha confirmed that Prof Moyo benefited from the Specialised Maize Production and Import Substitution Programme, commonly referred to as Command Agriculture.
Adv Dinha said, “We were actually shocked by Prof Moyo’s remarks on social media attacking the Command Agriculture Programme. He is a beneficiary of the programme, and we gave him everything. He is a Cabinet minister and for him to act as an MDC activist is regrettable.
“How does one sit in Cabinet with the President and after that meeting say ‘Command Agriculture is a sheer waste of time’? Why was he collecting those inputs? He should not fool the nation. He has a farm here in our province and benefited from the programme. What we are seeing now is his true character and intentions. Here, he is biting the hand that feeds him.”
Sources told The Sunday Mail that Prof Moyo’s Patterson Farm has one of the best maize crops in Mashonaland Central, thanks to Government’s massive support.
An inputs distribution committee member said, “Prof Moyo is a beneficiary of Command Agriculture. We gave him inputs for maize production at his Elephant Trust Farm in Mazowe. The minister and, mainly, his wife collected inputs from Harare, Concession, Bindura and Mazowe.
“We gave them fuel, maize seed, fertlisers and herbicides. We are still consolidating the total amount of inputs we gave particular beneficiaries, including Prof Moyo, since the inception of the programme as part of establishing what each individual got before we get into harvesting.
“Here in Bindura, the wife came to our offices and got preferential treatment given her status of Cabinet minister’s wife. Our team is, however, yet to establish whether all those inputs they collected from the respective GMB depots were actually all used up.”
Another source said should it emerge that Prof Moyo “did not indeed use the inputs as provided for under Command Agriculture or disposed of them in any other way, he could be investigated for abuse of State resources”.
But this has not stopped Prof Moyo from trashing Command Agriculture.
On March 6, 2017, Prof Moyo tweeted: “Report by @Herald Zimbabwe that ‘Command Agric exceeds target’ is at best premature & at worst needlessly false!”
He tweeted on March 10: “1/2: Maize is on 1,3m ha: 1,1m is Presidential Input Scheme; 153,102.60 ha is Command Agriculture & the rest private!”
He later added, “2/2: Command Agriculture targeted 400 000ha but contracted 247,035ha of which 191,124ha (77 percent) were tilled & 153,102.60ha (61 percent) were planted on!”
On March 11, he wrote, “Command is a tried & tested military concept. It is also great in programming. But in civil matters command is an oxymoron & non- start.”