EDITORIAL COMMENT: Address land redistribution flaws urgently


Government has since independence in 1980 made get strides in trying to correct the skewed land ownership which favoured minority whites.

Productive land which used to be a preserve of the whites has now been allocated to blacks in different parts of the country. The government soon after independence embarked on a programme to resettle the landless blacks but the process was slow as white farmers were reluctant to sell the land to the government for resettlement.

In 2000, the government under pressure from the impatient landless Zimbabweans, embarked on a fast- track land resettlement programme. Under this programme, the government is compulsorily acquiring land from white farmers to resettle the landless. Many of these landless people had already invaded farms owned by whites to force the government to act.

Today more than 300,000 families have been resettled under both A1 and A2 resettlement models. The programme to resettle people is ongoing and the government’s thrust now is to address shortcomings which are expected when implementing such a massive programme. There are many individuals who have more than one farm and in some cases land has been allocated to children as young as                   10 years old.

There are therefore many farms lying idle because the individuals allocated the farms do not have resources to work on the land or are too young to work on the land. It is these shortcomings which government should urgently address. Yesterday we reported that nearly 200 homesteads belonging to illegal settlers were destroyed at Deep Dene Farm in Silobela in the Midlands province.

The homesteads are part of the 300 homesteads built by illegal settlers on the farm. The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in the Midlands, Cde Jason Machaya, said the farm was private land which was owned by a black person.

He said he had set up a task force to look into the matter because the government was worried about the people’s livelihoods. He said the land which these illegal settlers invaded was not gazetted for redistribution. It is such shortcomings which must be addressed urgently because they disrupt farming activities.

Individuals should not be allowed to invade farms regardless of its status but should wait to be allocated land. Those that want land should apply for land and each district has a land committee that is supervised by land officers. The days of “jambanja” are over and we want orderly land allocation throughout the country.

The government said it will soon embark on a land audit to establish who owns what and the exercise should be able to identify multiple farm owners.  Land is a finite resource so it is important to ensure a person is allocated land that he or she is able to fully utilise.

The country can therefore not afford the luxury of having farms that are lying idle when thousands of Zimbabweans are waiting to be allocated land. We want to once again implore government to move with speed to address the shortcomings of the land redistribution programme so that we avoid a situation whereby people fight for land as what is happening in Silobela and other areas.

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