CHIREDZI – Farmers in Chibwedziva, Chief Sengwe in Chiredzi are up in arms against R1 levy per bag imposed on them by the councillor to be used for building a toilet at the local Grain Marketing Board.
Farmers who spoke to The Mirror on condition of anonymity said that they are not allowed to enter Chibwedziva GMB premises to sell their produce unless they pay the levy. They also said that the councillor and his committee were now the most powerful people at GMB.
GMB area manager Sheron Darikwa said she was not aware of the arrangement that has been going on since May when contacted for a comment by The Mirror.
It is understood that the depot collects 160 tonnes of grain a day which means the councillor and his levy committee are raising R3 200 for themselves. Farmers complained that the levy was just a form of corruption.
Ward 8 councillor David Mukondo confirmed the allegations and said that toilet facilities at GMB were not adequate and hence he came up with a committee to build a toilet.
“We set down with farmers and established a committee to oversee deliveries and ensure money to build a toilet at GMB is raised,” said Mukondo.
Chiredzi District Development Coordinator Lovemore Chisema said he was aware of the initiative whereby farmers volunteered to construct toilet though he was not aware of the accountability of the funds.
“Yes I am aware about the issue of farmers to raise funds for construction of the toilet but I am not aware about the accountability of the funds. We have to engage the community and see how much they have raised so far,”said Chisema.
The committee chairperson John Petro however differed with Mukondo. Petro told The Mirror that he was raising money to build a warehouse at GMB. He said that he, Mukondo and the farmers took that route because Government was on sanctions and did not have money to undertake such a project.
“Our Government is under sanctions and we have been given land to upgrade GMB depot to accommodate more farmers. The money we are raising is to help Government to construct a warehouse since it is incapacitated,” said Petro.
“I am not aware of the arrangement. I have to check with the depot but usually when a community has its initiative, we usually do not interfere,” said Darikwa.
“This is daylight robbery and its promoting corruption,” said one farmer.