YESTERDAY this newspaper ran a story in which Zanu PF politburo member and former Midlands governor Cephas Msipa defended a decision to keep a few dairy white farmers in Gweru.
He categorically stated that the decision he made as President Robert Mugabe’s point-man in the Midlands province was solely out of national interest as he believed the country should not import milk.
He went on to say the colour of one’s skin did not matter as long as they were productive on the pieces of land they occupied, adding that he joined Zanu PF to bring positive change to the country and not for personal gain.
“People should understand that there is national interest and self-interest. It is in the national interest that I said these dairy farmers should remain on their farms. We don’t have to import milk when we have people who are productive. It does not matter that one is white or black; what we want is development,” Msipa said.
There is a general consensus land reform was long overdue to address the land imbalances in which an estimated 4 500 white commercial farmers owned large tracts of land, some as big as Belgium.
A handful of new black farmers have hit the ground running, recording some successful stories in horticulture, tobacco and other cash crops despite the harsh economic environment.
But it is our submission that if Zanu PF mandarins had taken a leaf from Msipa, parts of southern Zimbabwe would not be staring starvation in the face as is the case with some parts of Masvingo, Manicaland, Matabeleland North and South where successful white commercial farmers were driven enmass from their prime farms.
The country is experiencing serious food shortages largely because of some political commissars in Zanu PF working in cohorts with bureaucrats seeking political capital by expelling the former white commercial farmers for political expedience without thinking about the future.
Competent white large-scale farmers should have been ring-fenced from the wholesale seizure of prime farm land to ensure the country fed itself into the future while allowing the new farmers to learn the trade, which to all intents and purposes, is a serious business enterprise.
It is an open secret that some of the empowered black farmers still treat farming as a part-time enterprise hence the threat of food shortages looming in southern Zimbabwe.
As a result, the cash-strapped new administration is hard-pressed to bankroll the shipment of 150 000 tonnes of grain from Zambia to cover the grain deficit before we start counting bodies of villagers succumbing to hunger pangs in southern Zimbabwe.
Judging from Msipa’s honest disclosures, chickens are coming home to roost.