Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire on Friday blamed “new farmers” for the demise of some of the country’s biggest companies by failing to utilise their pieces of land.
Mavhaire, who is also Zanu PF secretary for production and labour, told villagers at Nkenyane village in Bubi district Ward 14, that firms such as Bata Shoe Company and the Cold Storage Company (CSC) were struggling because the new farmers were not living up to expectations.
“You farmers are the ones responsible for problems at Cold Storage Company and Bata Shoe Company,” the minister told farmers attending a field day.
“These companies were functional before you took over farms, but now they are not doing well, why? We agreed that we were taking farms and now we now have the keys (to industry), but CSC has collapsed and children are suffering and failing to go to school,” he said.
“Now you are crying that whites are the ones killing the nation yet in actual fact it’s you.
“You were chanting party slogans when you took farms, but what have you done about those farms?
“You took them and put your relatives in paddocks where you were supposed to keep cattle.
“We need cattle for meat and hides. We have to export so that we could get foreign currency.”
The field day was held at the homestead of Ward 14 councillor Cookie Moyo.
Mavhaire said the government would loan farmers cattle from Botswana and South Africa to boost livestock production.
Mavhaire encouraged farmers to put personal brand marks on their cattle to minimise livestock theft.
His sentiments come at a time the economy is slowly sliding into recession characterised by low aggregate demand, deflation, acute liquidity crisis and massive company closures.
Economic analysts cite the controversial fast track land reform programme, which displaced white farmers as one of the reasons the economy is in the doldrums.
CSC used to play a leading role in the processing and marketing of Zimbabwe’s beef since its inception in 1937.
However, it fell on hard times from 2000 owing to a myriad of challenges, that include difficulty in raising adequate working capital, cattle disease outbreaks, decline in the commercial herd, huge foreign debt, high staff turnover and an aged transport fleet.
CSC last exported beef in 2007 because of serious uncontrolled outbreaks of foot and mouth diseases.
At its peak, Bata used to produce two million pairs of shoes per year and employed over 500 workers.