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𝗛𝗒π—ͺ π—–π—’π— π—˜ π—­π—œπ—  π—šπ—’π—§ 𝗝𝗒𝗛𝗑 π——π—˜π—˜π—₯π—˜ 𝗧π—₯𝗔𝗖𝗧𝗒π—₯𝗦 π—œπ—™ π—ͺπ—˜ 𝗔π—₯π—˜ π—¨π—‘π——π—˜π—₯ π—¦π—”π—‘π—–π—§π—œπ—’π—‘π—¦?

Article by Rutendo Matinyarare

In 2020, Zimbabwe signed a US$51 million deal to purchase 1300 John Deere tractors and 80 combine harvesters on favorable loan agreements of between three to five years, at 8% interest from various banks in Zimbabwe.

How did the deal happen while Zimbabwe is under U.S. sanctions? The US Treasury granted John Deere a π—Ήπ—Άπ—°π—²π—»π˜€π—² to sell its tractors to a sanctioned and captive Zimbabwean market, which is believed to be short of over 30,000 tractors to mechanize its agriculture.

However, despite giving John Deere a license to supply Zimbabwe with farming machinery, the US Treasury still maintains prohibitions on other Deere competitors (US, European, China, Russia, and other countries) that also want to sell tractors to Zimbabwe at more competitive prices.

But why did the U.S. government allow #JohnDeere specifically to sell this productive equipment and technology to Zimbabwe and not others when Zimbabwe is under U.S. sanctions? Because:

1. The U.S. government wanted to give John Deere a monopoly over the Zimbabwean commercial farming sector and to ensure that the U.S. company and foreign banks can benefit from a portion of Zimbabwe’s agriculture profits.

2. Through John Deere, the biggest agriculture equipment manufacturer in the world, the US now controls the farming done on over 5000 black-owned commercial farms that use John Deere machinery covered under this deal. How?

3. All modern John Deere tractors cannot be repaired without John Deere software and repair centers. Not only that, but John Deere is also able to monitor and control each and every tractor in the world in real time using their software, computer boxes on the tractors and GPS.

This means that if John Deere were instructed by the U.S. government, they can switch off the machines, similar to what General Electric did when they disabled Guri Dam Hydro Power plant in Venezuela, which was driven by GE machinery.

They can also do what they did with our thermal electric power plants in Bulawayo and Harare and National Railways where they denied ZESA and NRZ parts and technical support to maintain and repair machines.

So, in essence, John Deere can cripple farming on all or select farms using John Deere tractors, by remotely switching them off, using their computer box software and then denying Zimbabwe software to repair or replace parts.
This means the farmers with John Deere tractors are now captive or dependent on the U.S. government and John Deere to make money and achieve food security.

4. Our government allowed 5000 of our best-financed farmers who bought and some sharing John Deere tractors, to be held captive by the U.S. and its company, and now they indirectly put part of our farming output on these farms in the hands of the U.S. government.

I am not sure if the US and John Deere gave our government assurances that they won’t hack the machines they sold to our farmers, or if our government got the software or has people who can jailbreak this tractor software, or if our government just lacks foresight, or if some people received bribes or kickbacks and didn’t properly risk-manage our farming implement procurement process in the name of reengagement. All I know is this dependency on U.S. technology is dangerous and is being challenged by American farmers who are demanding codes to repair JD tractors themselves.

Only time will tell, and in the meantime, if you are a programmer, start downloading open source code on how to jailbreak Deere software, and you will get loads of business. I warned about this in 2017 already.

Yes, Zimbabwe has also received tractors from Belarus, India, Brazil, and China, but the US$52 million hackable John Deere implements contract, is targeted at some of our wealthiest farmers, in a country where we have a shortage of over 30,000 tractors. This leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

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