BENEFICIARIES of Pfumvudza and drought relief programmes should not be coerced into covering transport costs as it is Government’s responsibility to deliver grain and inputs to them, Manicaland Provincial Development Coordinator, Mr Edgars Seenza, has said.
He said those being asked to make such payments must report the cases to the police.
Mr Seenza’s comments come amid revelations that some unscrupulous Government workers in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts were conniving with transporters and village heads to demand US$1 or R20 from beneficiaries of the two programmes, yet that responsibility was being shouldered by the Government.
At least $118 million is being mobilised to transport inputs under the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Programme, commonly known as Pfumvudza, from Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots.
Information gathered by The Manica Post showed that Agritex and Department of Social Welfare officials, truck drivers and village heads were charging unsuspecting beneficiaries in foreign currency for them to be included on the list of beneficiaries.
Proceeds are shared amongst members of the syndicates.
This is contrary to Government’s position that GMB has the sole responsibility to hire and pay transporters.
“It is Government’s responsibility to pay transporters for the deliveries of the Pfumvuvudza inputs and drought relief grain. Government, through GMB, hires and pay transporters. Beneficiaries are not supposed to do that. They are not supposed to pay anything to receive their allocations. Government has released funds to GMB for that purpose.
“If people are being forced to pay for transport costs in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts, beneficiaries must come forward and present such evidence to the District Development Coordinators (DDCs) for corrective action to be taken.
“I will alert the DDCs to immediately take corrective action because that should not be happening. Beneficiaries are not supposed to pay because GMB is responsible for providing transport,” said Mr Seenza.
On Sunday, Makoni North legislator, Cde James Munetsi told villagers in Tanda that Government is catering for all transport costs.
“Transporters have binding contracts with GMB and that means you shouldn’t be paying. The mandate to pay transporters lies with GMB,” said Cde Munetsi.
Beneficiaries in Chipinge and Chimanimani told The Manica Post that they are being charged in foreign currency for the transportation of their allocations from GMB depots.
Mr Aaron Zuwarimwe of Ward 20 in Chipinge said villagers are being told that those who do not pay the transport costs will not benefit from the Pfumvudza and grain relief programmes.
“Those compiling the lists of beneficiaries are demanding US$1 or R20 for a household to be included on the list of beneficiaries. We have paid the money and sometimes you have to pay more depending on the distance between the inputs collection point and the destination. We have been told that the money is being used to hire trucks,” said Mr Zuwarimwe.
Mr Alexander Muusha of Kopa in Chimanimani said they were not aware of Government’s commitment to cover the transport costs.
“We were made to believe that Government is only giving us grain and that it is our duty to pay the transport costs. Many vulnerable groups, especially the elderly and those living with disabilities, are finding it difficult to cover the transport costs as they are usually pegged in forex,” he said.
An extension worker based in Chibuwe spoke to condition of anonymity and said the farmers opted to cover the transport costs to speed up the delivery of inputs.
“In some instances GMB has been delaying the delivery of the inputs, yet farmers need to plant with the early rains. This has seen the beneficiaries volunteering to hire and pay for their own transport,” said the official.
However, Agritex head for Manicaland, Mrs Phillipa Rwabiwa, rubbished the claim, insisting that GMB has the capacity to execute its mandate.
“GMB is hiring transporters and paying them. They now have the funds to transport the inputs so beneficiaries shouldn’t be paying,” said Mrs Rwambiwa.
However, when contacted for comment, GMB regional manager, Mr Tawonga Makuwara could not shed more light on the issues, referring all questions to the organisation’s public relations department in Harare.
“The best people to give you the picture will be our public relations department in Harare or the Provincial Development Coordinator (Mr Seenza). The PDC can give you the actual position because we had a meeting with him over the issues you are raising,” said Mr Makuwara.
But questions sent to GMB’s PR department had not been responded to by the time of going to print.
Chipinge DDC, Mr William Mashava said his office is investigating the matter.
“We are inundated with reports that beneficiaries are being asked to meet transport costs for the Pfumvudza and drought relief grain programmes. This is illegal. Government is paying for the transportation of both inputs and grain.