UK based Law lecturer, Dr Alex Magaisa, who lectures law at Kent University in the United Kingdom, this week opened a can of worms through his very popular BSR platform, when he published an article on the 2007-2008 Farm mechanization scheme by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
In an indept article on the topic, Dr Magaisa opined that there was massive corruption in the manner in which the farm implement scheme was administered as it was initially believed to be a loan scheme, but whose beneficiaries later failed or reneged to pay back on, resulting in the Government of Zimbabwe assuming the debt.
The article opened a floodgate of comments from the general public as citizens took to social media to voice their concerns as well as expressing shock and dismay at the identity of some of the beneficiaries.
Some of the most shocking beneficiaries include top religious leaders from various denominations, and these include Archbishop Professor Ezekiel Guti of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God church (Zaoga), who is alleged to have received farm implements worth US$116,693.00 and Former Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who allegedly received his share of the implements valued at US$98,661.00.
Agatha Kunonga, a relative of former Bishop Kunonga is listed as having received US$58,318.00, While ZCC leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi is reported to have received two loans valued at US$271,000.00 and US$315,600.00 respectively, adding to a grand total of US$586,600.00. Here is Dr Magaisa’s full article https://bit.ly/2WC4kK2.
It is the names of the above mentioned members of the clergy that have sent tongues wagging, with some commentators asking how the church can then be expected to hold politicians to a high moral standard when they themselves are feeding in the same trough as the politicians.
Several commentators are of the opinion that the church has been captured and thus can now not be expected to call the government to order over some of it’s excesses as it seems to have been corrupted.
The very nature of a loan is that it has to be paid back to the lender, but all the individuals implicated in the farm mechanization loan scheme have not paid back the loans, and thus the Government had to assume the debt. Commentators that this publication spoke to also questioned the moral aptitude of religious leaders in failing to pay back the loans, while also wondering if these people’s farms are even productive.
Dr Magaisa’s article led former Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, to issue a statement in the State run Sunday Mail newspaper, in which he poured cold water on Dr Magaisa’s claims that the Farm Implements scheme was a loan scheme and said that it actually wasn’t but was merely a scheme to empower new farmers. Here is Dr Gono’s full article https://bit.ly/2Bc2qIq in the Sunday Mail.
So just to give you a background to the story, the Farm Mechanisation Scheme was ostensibly a Zimbabwean governmenent facility whose overaching agenda was an attempt to boost agricultural productivity in the country at the height of what was them termed “the thord Chimurenga” or simply the Fast Track Land Reform Programme, which was designed to correct colonial land distribution imbalances, which had historically favoured white settlers. The scheme was championed by then govenor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr. Gideon Gono was the then RBZ Governor. The programme was valued at US$200million, which was injected in a four-phase methodology.
The farm mechanisation programme however largely did not produce any desirable results. It was launched in 2007.
In 2010 Dr Gideon Gono reportedly wrote to the then Minister of Agriculture, Dr Joseph Made, asking him for direction on what to do with beneficiaries who didn’t pay back the loans.
The major beneficiaries of the largess were the political elite, as well as religious leaders. Who got for themselves themselves irrigation schemes, brand new tractors, combine harvesters and implements that genuine farmers would have used productively.
The loans were not returned and members of parliament then voted for them to be written off.
In a Twitter exchange with Norton Legislator Temba Mlisa, who had said that there was nothing new to these schemes as governments the world over routinely use them, Dr Magaisa expressed shock at what he described as lack of indepth understanding by the legislator as the act of Government taking over debt meant that the tax payers, most of whom are poorer than Mliswa himself, would pay for the defaulters.