MDC Alliance losing candidate in the 2018 Parliamentary elections, Dr Takavafira Zhou, has said Chimwe-Chegato Irrigation Scheme in Mberengwa North can guarantee food security if there is no political interference in the management of the scheme. We present below his statement issued on 10 December 2020.
Established in 1994, the 64ha Chimwe-Chegato irrigation Scheme has the potential to guarantee food security in parts of chiefs Mapiravana, Mposi and Mudavanhu’s areas, if managed well. Sadly, the irrigation scheme has since its establishment failed to measure up to its expected outcomes with 125 plot holders saddled with water and electricity bills. While a myriad reasons account for malfunctioning of the irrigation scheme, this article focuses on acidic political Interference as a major stumbling block for efficient management of the scheme.
A case in point is the running down of Chimwe-Chegato Irrigation Scheme by ward 12 Councillor, Nokuthula Dhlela, a teacher at Mabika Primary School. In terms of the constitution of the Irrigation scheme, the Councillor is an ex officio but she has usurped the operations of the committee and now chairs meetings. In March 2020 she unilaterally sold 300m of old net wire for her own use after the irrigation got a donation of a new fence from Care Ecrim project. The plot holders had hoped the old net wire could be sold to any buyers and proceeds used to offset water and electricity bills that cumulatively were then in the range of $50000. Her husband allegedly abused proceeds from tractors allocated for farm mechanisation for personal benefit.
I had to refer the plot holders who approached me to the local council in Mataga, DA’s office at Mberengwa as well as the head of the department of irrigation in Gweru, Mr Zano. I also made a direct appeal to some of these people to intervene, although they never bothered to give feedback.
The irrigation scheme is an important aspect in ensuring food security but unless there is sanity and oversight role from some other offices it will not serve it’s intended purpose. Above all, irrigation schemes must be run efficiently and effectively and with minimum reference to political affiliation of plot holders. Food security and sustainable development know no political party.
It is crucial that an irrigation committee be all-embracing of plot-holders in the scheme or areas represented in the scheme. Sadly, the current Councillor dissolved an all representative committee and replaced it with a committee largely restricted to her ward, viz, ward 12. A donated grinding mill that was supposed to benefit all plot holders to grind irrigation dry stalks for animal feeds has also been monopolized for one ward at the exclusion of other wards. The Councillor is quick to claim strong relations with the first lady to silence genuine complaints by plot holders.
All the same, credit must be given to some previous and current committee members in ensuring that the irrigation scheme remains operational. With less political interference, better management and improvement in marketing products, the Chimwe-Chegato irrigation scheme can be put on a sounder footing to guarantee food security in rural Mberengwa North. There is, therefore, an urgent need to reign on Zanu pf ward 12 errant councillor, to make this a reality.
–Dr Takavafira M. Zhou is the MDC A spokesman of the Midlands Province