The rains are upon us and in most rural areas and resettlements people are doing what they have done every year-preparing to farm the land. The government is also doing something it has done every year, giving away free/subsidised farming inputs to farmers in these areas. Village heads and other leaders in these areas are also doing what they have done pretty much every year-demanding bribes from villagers who want these inputs.

Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana seems surprised that this is happening as revealed by a Tweet on his official account:

-In Banket Village Heads are accused of demanding $4 from each farmer so they access the inputs.
-In Murewa Village heads and families are accused of looting.
-In Mhangura community leader are accused of imposing conditions on beneficiaries

Nick Mangwana on Twitter.

As I have already said this is not surprising at all. This has been happening for more than a decade whenever government inputs are given away for free or at subsidised prices leaders in charge of distributing these inputs often demand payment from would-be beneficiaries of these schemes. Sometimes this money is disguised as transport fees and other times it is disguised as “security fees” to pay the guards who keep watch of the items before they are distributed.

Most villagers happily pay this fee because to them it’s nothing as they can these inputs for lower prices and the bribes are small compared to what they would pay on the open market for the items they are getting. Some have also been known to get these inputs and sell them on the open market and pocket the profit.

The government’s input schemes are a hotbed of corruption but they have also been credited with boosting agricultural production. Most people who cannot afford inputs are therefore beneficiaries each year. This fact has been one of the criticisms levelled against the input schemes as beneficiaries have remained poor and in need of subsidies each year.