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Sugarcane Farmers Cry Foul

Chiredzi — Government has turned down a request by sugarcane farmers in Chiredzi to help arrest cases of maladministration and abuse of funds in their associations through sponsoring an audit of their activities.

This development comes after some disgruntled members from the Commercial Sugarcane Farmers Association (CFAZ) approached Deputy Minister for Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for Crops Cde Davis Marapira asking for a ministerial team to do books of their association.

Some members of the associations alleged that their executives were spoiling themselves with unnecessary allowances.

“Sugarcane farmers should not bother Government about issues of abuse of funds by farmer associations in Chiredzi because these are just their own creations, they just decided to form associations and it is not Government policy,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.

One member of CFAZ said they were not happy with the way affairs were being run by secretary-general Mr Roy Bhila, whom they accused of unilaterally firing the administrator so that he could gain total control of the association.

“The association’s administrator was fired by Bhila, all he wanted was to be in control of all systems,” said the member. “Our chairman (Mr Tawanda) Mafurutu is very soft and Bhila is dictating the pace.

“He now comes daily to the office and gets $50 for fuel and another $50 as allowance and this happened for the whole of last year. We can’t sustain this and that is why we need the Government’s intervention.”

Former secretary-general of the association and now Chiredzi West Member of Parliament Cde Darlington Chiwa said it was unfortunate that the norms of the association seemed to be abandoned by the executive and this triggered the internal fights.

“It is true that Bhila fired the administrator, who oversees the daily operations of the association,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the hard earned money contributed by the farmer after feeding cane for 12 months is now being blown quickly like a cigarette.

“As the MP and also concerned farmer, I urge farmers to wake up and smell the coffee.”

CFAZ has 400 farmers, and each member is levied between 1,5 and 2 percent for every tonne of sugar produced from their cane.

Mr Bhila said his operations were aboveboard.

“The issue of the administrator was heard in the courts and the association won the matter, we can’t be stopped from executing our duties by people who just like criticising,” he said.

“We are getting allowances and fuel because we are doing work, do you want me to drive from Mkwasine to Chiredzi with water in my fuel tank?”

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