The enactment of statutory instruments has become a common feature in Zimbabwe. I have lost count of the number of SIs that have been gazetted in Zimbabwe over the past couple of years. Recently the government enacted 2 statutory instruments which I shall be talking about in this article. The SIs are centred on controlling the sale of cotton and soybeans – quite an interesting development. It is also worth mentioning that the government recently announced the latest producer prices for farmers. They are as follows:

Producer Prices For Commercial Crops – 2021/22

CropPrice Per Metric Tonne (ZWL$)
Sugar Beans90 000
Groundnuts40 000
Sunflower40 000
Roundnuts50 000
Popcorn42 000
Cow Peas32 500
Sesame Seeds70 000
Maize32 000

These producer prices are with immediate effect.

Statutory Instrument 96 of 2021

Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Cotton) Regulations, 2021

These regulations are additional to any contractual obligations agreed to by a contract farmer and to the extent of any inconsistency with the contracted obligations, these regulations shall prevail.

I will highlight some of the key issues covered in the SI.

No person or statutory body or company or entity under a contractual obligation to sell to a contractor or to the Grain Marketing Board or any authorised agency shall sell or otherwise dispose of any cotton except to such contractor or to the Grain Marketing Board or any authorised agency.

Any cotton which is required to be sold to the Grain Marketing Board or any authorised agency in terms of this section shall be delivered at such time, place, and quantities as the Board or authorised agency may direct and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by the Board or authorised agency.

The Grain Marketing Board or authorised agent shall not acquire cotton from any person other than a contract farmer, producer or contractor.

No person, statutory body, company or entity shall buy or otherwise acquire any cotton from a contract farmer or producer without a prior contractual obligation to do so.

No person shall use or dispose of cotton seed acquired through the Government otherwise than for such purpose except with the written permission of the Government.

With effect from the date of commencement of these regulations, no person other than the Grain Marketing Board or authorised agent shall export from Zimbabwe cotton of any quantity or any description until such a date that shall be specified by the Minister by way of notice in the Gazette.

Where there is reasonable suspicion that cotton is being sold in contravention of these regulations:

 (a)  an authorised person; or

 (b)  police officer;

may seize the cotton in question or seize any vehicle, container, or other property used in connection with the storage or transportation of cotton in question as an exhibit in the contemplated prosecution of the offence, in accordance with the provisions of these regulations.

Where cotton has been wrongly seized, the person to whom the cotton belongs may make an application to the High Court for the payment of compensation.

Any person, whether or not a party to a scheme contract who deals in or possess cotton in contravention of these regulations; that is to say purchases, receives, stores, sells, obtains, possesses, exports, transports or otherwise disposes of such cotton, in contravention of these regulations, shall in terms of section 40(2) of the Act be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding three times the value of such controlled product, calculated on the current selling price of the Grain Marketing Board within Zimbabwe of the highest grade or class of that controlled product or eight hundred dollars, whichever is greater, or in default of payment, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.

Those are some of the core aspects covered in SI 96 of 2021.

Statutory Instrument 97 of 2021

Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Soya Beans) Regulations, 2021

SI 97 of 2021 also follows the same format as that of SI 96 of 2021. Thus all the aspects I mentioned under SI 96 of 2021 also apply to SI 96 of 2021.

So what are your thoughts regarding this latest development? Do you think this is a good move or it is a bad one? Kindly share what implications you think this all brings about. Given the murky history of the love-hate relationship between farmers and GMB, we can only wait to see how things will pan out on this one.