FIGHT OVER BRAZIL FARM EQUIPMENT | Farmers at Villa Franca Farm in Glendale are embroiled in a bitter wrangle over management of machinery and equipment they received under the Brazil More Food for Africa Programme, with the election of a new chairperson expected to chart a new trajectory for the scheme.
Villa Franca Irrigation Scheme has 45 members. The scheme received four 75-horse power tractors, one centre pivot, three planters, a water pump, four disc harrows and 45 knapsack sprayers.
But members are quarrelling on who should exercise oversight over the use of the equipment. Former chairperson of Villa Franca scheme Mr Shoniwa Deve said he had been discouraged from leading the project by power-hungry people, who present a real threat to the survival of the scheme.
He said even after he was no longer chairperson of the scheme, he was still haunted by members who accused him of mismanaging funds.
His successor, Mrs Betty Musikavanhu, who was similarly relieved of her duties yesterday, says she was victimised by misogynistic members of the scheme under the pretext that she had mismanaged funds.
“I took over after Mr Deve had resigned and have been working hard for the scheme. When I took over, we had not received our centre pivot and I made efforts to get the irrigation equipment.
“There are times when I would use my own resources for the scheme, but because I am a woman, the men could not accept me.
“Instead of showing appreciation, they accused me of abusing funds. “There was a time when I nearly surrendered the tractor keys to the Department of Mechanisation in Bindura since I could not work harmoniously with other scheme members, who are mostly men,” she said.
Mrs Musikavanhu said at one time she cleared a strip of soya beans belonging to another farmer to make way for an armoured cable, but she was subsequently hauled before the courts for that.
But her predecessor, Mr Deve, contends that Mrs Musikavanhu indeed mismanaged the scheme through, among other indiscretions, personalising equipment.Mr Deve said: “It is not an issue of gender.
“We are worried about the management.“We paid the money she told us to pay and respected her, but we were worried that there were no updates, especially on finances and at one time we failed to pay $800 for a certain part of the pivot, when we had raised $3 200. . .
“The new committee has three women and four men.“Mrs Musikavanhu could not vote or contest because she is not a plot holder, but her husband is. This is not gender discrimination; we are just following the constitution,” he said.
However, the new chairperson, Mr Manyowa says he has nothing against Mrs Musikavanhu.