Operation Maguta was a food distribution program launched in November 2005, aimed to boost food security and consolidate national Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR). It was spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in line with their constitutional obligation to provide assistance to civil ministries and departments in times of crisis and need. The program was not a replacement for, but an augmentation of ongoing national agricultural activities.
Under this scheme, farmers are given inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and herbicides in order for them to grow targeted crops such as maize and wheat. The program is mainly targeting model A1 and communal farmers. The farmers are required to pay back after harvesting their crops at an interest rate 50 per cent, but have the option of paying in the form of produce (through the GMB) or cash. The program provides 300 kilograms of compound D fertilizer, 200 kilograms of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and 25 kilograms of maize seed to each household. These inputs are supposed to be enough for one hectare. The scheme has also started rehabilitating the irrigation infrastructure of A1 and A2 farmers, which was damaged at the height of the fast track land reform program.
The Maguta program progressed very well during its initial phases, when all the relevant ministries and government departments were involved. Later on, however, the Zimbabwe National Army started running the program without consulting other ministries and government departments, resulting in a lack of impartiality in food distribution. The selection of the recipients was done firstly at the village level by the kraal heads. The list of the beneficiaries from the village was taken to the ward level, where it was finalized by the village heads together with the ward councilors. The list was then passed on to members of the army, who then approve the release of the inputs, which were usually kept at the Grain Marketing Board depots. There were allegations that access to the distributed food was dependent on the political party supported by the recipient.
- Evangelista Mudzonga, Tendai Chigwada , Trade Knowledge Network, Accessed: 24 July, 2020