The southern region of this country has suffered severe droughts in recent years and it’s now been long since farmers recorded meaningful harvests.
In the past villagers have largely survived through farming at small plots at irrigation schemes where they also cultivate cash crops for an income.
However, over the years these schemes have suffered from neglect by the government and most of them, especially in Matabeleland South province, have ceased operations.
As the hunger season sets in, with over two million people said to be in desperate need of food aid, the irrigation schemes would have ensured that the government does not have to wait for overstretched donors to come to the rescue of the hungry.
It is against that background that we find the imminent collapse of Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme in Insiza highly unacceptable.
Plot holders at the once vibrant scheme last week told Southern Eye they had no water for their crops as the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) cut off supplies for non-payment of bills dating back to 2008.
The irrigation spans about 360 hectares and accommodates 853 farmers in its eight sections namely, Vukuzenzele, Nonoka, Mbokodo North and South, Landela North and South, Phelandaba North and South.
Farmers said Zinwa was in the habit of disconnecting water every time their crops were reaching maturity resulting in them suffering heavy losses.
The behaviour of Zinwa is criminal to say the least moreso for a government institution.
Just last year, there were reports that Zinwa was owed over $90 million by people including senior Zanu PF officials who were not paying for water they use for irrigation at their farms.
However, there was no report of Zinwa taking any drastic action close to the severe punishment it is meting out to poor villagers trying to make a living out of farming at the Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made should be seen acting against this clear act of sabotage by Zinwa.