A ZANU PF district chairperson and councillor in Bulilima Rural District Council (RDC) has been accused of stealing farming inputs meant for the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme.
Zoolakes Nyathi, who is ward 10 councillor for Bambadzi area in Bulilima, is alleged to have diverted 350kg maize seed and 358 bags of fertilizer to his shop for resale.
The Pfumvudza concept was introduced by government to promote conservation farming techniques, and it involves the use of small plots on smallholder farms and applying the correct agronomic practices for higher returns.
It also targets small-scale farmers across the eight rural provinces in the country, whereby they have been given the target to produce 1,8 million tonnes of cereals and 360 000 tonnes of oil seeds in the forthcoming summer cropping season.
Bulilima district Agritex officer Peter Masoja said Nyathi collected the inputs from a Grain Marketing Board storage facility in Plumtree without the knowledge of the Agritex officer stationed there, thus acting unlawfully.
“The keys to the storeroom are kept by the councillor’s wife and the councillor. I have already informed Agricultural Extension officers on the theft of inputs,” Masoja said.
“When the councillor’s wife was asked about the shortfall, she professed ignorance. The councillor was not there in both incidences. There is need for the councillor to be brought to book and, therefore, we will be conducting further investigations,” he said.
Masoja said Agritex supervisors would now do a physical check of all inputs in stock to verify if there were any households that received them from Nyathi.
“When I phoned the councillor (Nyathi), he admitted that he did take the inputs and he claimed that he ferried them to the next distribution point in Jutshume to distribute them to the community. But on his way to Jutshume, he claimed that he received a message that a family member had died and had to deliver the inputs to his homestead hoping that after the funeral, he would then deliver them to the intended beneficiaries,” Masoja said.
Nyathi denied the allegations, accusing Masoja of lying.
“Inputs are delivered at one place, at the centre of the ward. This is because the ward has three schools which are far from each other. People saw us loading a truck with inputs and they thought that we were going to sell them,” Nyathi said.
“The Agritex guys called me and came twice and they saw that nothing was missing. That is misguided and wrong information. In fact, it is character defamation because nothing was stolen or is missing.”
He said the people who reported were now refusing to come out. We want to look for these people because this is serious character defamation,” he said.