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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Agric4she maize crops destroyed

By Kelvin Kasiwulaya

Gweru residents have bemoaned the increasing population of donkeys in the city which are reportedly causing havoc as they are destroying gardens and the maize crop which was funded under the Agric4She programme.

Residents told The Sun that the donkeys are being used to transport firewood into the city and then left to roam the suburbs by the owners who are popularly known in Mkoba as the “Vakomana Vemadhongi crew”

Mrs Misisi Njini who is a beneficiary of the Agri4she programme said she will have nothing to show for the program if the donkey menace is not abated.

“We are having problems with these donkeys, the owners are reckless, they randomly release the animals to feed on our maize crops, if these donkeys are not removed from our suburb all the maize crop which was planted under the Agri4she programme will be destroyed and we will have nothing to show.

As you know, we went to Gweru Poly where we were given agricultural inputs, the inputs were meant for us to engage in subsistence farming and improve food security in our communities but now the crops are being destroyed by stray donkeys. I have since approached the police for a reprieve, our maize crop needs protection from these unscrupulous donkey owners, I will also go to the Environmental Management Agency and report them, these guys are illegally selling firewood,” she said.

Another beneficiary of the Agri4she programme, Amai Addy from Mkoba 11 said she has tried to fence her field with shrubs and barbed wire but the donkeys will always find their way into the fields.

“We are now sick and tired of these donkeys, I have tried everything to protect my maize field but nothing is working, and all my Agri4she crop will soon be destroyed. I have tried to engage the donkey owners but these men are rude and dangerous, they move around wielding axes and machetes, we are helpless, we can’t do anything, and we need help from the city council and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to deal with this challenge,” she said.

Mrs Precious Moyo from Mkoba 6 high-density suburb said, for the past six years donkeys have become part of their community and residents were failing to engage the violent donkey-driven cart owners for reprieve.

“We are having serious problems with stray donkeys in our community which is terrorizing residents. These notorious animals are seen daily moving around destroying people’s gardens.

“These donkeys are here as a result of power cuts as we have lots of donkey-driven carts coming from nearby farms to deliver firewood,” she said.

Mr Wilfred Dongo a senior citizen who survives through subsistence farming also bemoaned the situation.

“We are worried about the number of donkeys that are slowly becoming part of our community. It was not that common to spot donkeys in the city but now, we see them daily moving around destroying people’s crops.

“We cannot continue living like this because many of us rely on the same fields for food and relish. We are not sure what the local authority can do to save us because we need these gardens, times are hard,” he said.

Furthermore, Gweru residents accuse the “Vakomana vemadhongi” crew of stock theft.
“These men who sell firewood from donkey-driven cuts are thieves, they steal donkeys from Lower Gweru and surrounding farms and use them as drought power investigations must be carried out, most of these donkeys were stolen from poor farmers, said Samson Mwechande a Mkoba 5 resident.

Contacted for comment, City of Gweru Public relations officer Vimbai Chingwaramusee said the local authority’s by-laws were clear and no one is allowed to keep animals without a council permit.

Council by-laws are clear. Public health by-laws say no one should keep animals such as donkeys, cattle, or pigs without a council permit. We usually penalize the donkey owners but we feel the fines are too low because after paying the owners still commit the crime. Hence, we want to review these fines.

In previous years we would shoot stray animals if they continued roaming however, we were taken to court by SPCA for the cruelty to animals, so we cannot use force or shoot the animals but we can only deal with the owner because of the interdict. We are pushing to find ways to ensure that we are strict with these owners. Honestly having donkeys in the city reduces the value of the city and it also causes a menace in the city which we are saying no to. So as a local authority, we are looking into better ways to curb this once and for all.#The Sun


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