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‘Illegal trust’ milking Shashe Irrigation Scheme proceeds 

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‘Illegal trust’ milking Shashe Irrigation Scheme proceeds 

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REBECCA MAZVIDZA
TWO NATIONS REPORTER

BEITBRIDGE-Shashe Irrigation Scheme farmers are not realising profits because their affairs are managed by a Trust, which allegedly milks 50 per cent of their proceeds as administration fees. The existence of a trust in the day-to-day running of the scheme is illegal according to the Statutory Instrument (SI) of 38 of 2020.  
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Matabeleland regional manager Ndodana Ncube confirmed the matter to Two Nations. ARDA is a parastatal under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development. 
Ncube said they will soon meet with the Trust to map a way forward. He said they only discovered that the Trust was managing the scheme after they went to consult farmers over low productivity and profits on Thursday last week. 
The 10-member Trust, is headed by former Beitbridge Rural District Council (BRDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Albert Mbedzi.
Mbedzi asked this reporter to phone him after 4O minutes, but he was no longer picking calls.
Ncube added that an irrigation scheme is managed by an Irrigation Management Committee (IMC), an Agritex officer and a scheme business manager. 
“As ARDA, we manage irrigation schemes countrywide. We went to Shashe with Agritex officers to see how we could assist farmers improve productivity. We then established that a Trust is running the affairs of the scheme.
“We are still to engage the Trust to map a way forward. The meeting will also be attended by other Government stakeholders including members from the District Development Coordinator (DDC) office. We will discuss Government expectations on irrigation schemes and map a way forward,” said Ncube.
Shashe Irrigation Scheme IMC chairperson Masotsha Mudau said dealing with the Trust takes a long process. He said Mbedzi is not a farmer and does not reside in the district, and whenever they want some papers to be signed, it would take long. 
Scheme members who spoke to Two Nations said it is disheartening that the four permanent members of the trust board are not plot holders, whilst the other six are plot holders. 
“I think it is a good idea because since we started working with the Trust, it was sourcing resources from us instead of offering us support. Whenever we face problems we fund ourselves. Our money is not used transparently,” said a scheme member.
The Trust allegedly takes 50 per cent of the scheme’s proceeds as administration fee. It has however, reduced to 30 per cent.

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