Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Comments on land reform in Zimbabwe

Comment on the Land Reform issue in Zimbabwe (from Mail & Guardian) Please read the, “Land reform in Zimbabwe to give you an overview of the problems and the reasons and causes.”

Land reform in Zimbabwe began after the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979 in an effort to more equitably distribute land between the historically disenfranchised blacks and the minority-whites who ruled Zimbabwe from 1890 to 1979. The government’s land distribution is perhaps the most crucial and the most bitterly contested political issue surrounding Zimbabwe today.

In 1981, the British were instrumental in setting up the Zimbabwe conference on reconstruction and development. At that conference, more than £630 million of aid was pledged.( Never delivered )

In 1981, the Communal Land Act changed the Tribal Trust Lands into Communal Areas and shifted authority over these lands from traditional rulers to local authorities.

The 1985 Land Acquisition Act, though drawn in the spirit of the 1979 Lancaster House “willing seller, willing buyer” clause (which could not be changed for ten years), gave the government the first right to purchase excess land for redistribution to the landless. However, the Act had a limited impact, largely because the government did not have the money to compensate landowners. In addition, European farmers mounted a vigorous opposition to the Act. Because of the “willing seller, willing buyer” clause, the government was powerless in the face of the farmers’ resistance. As a result, between 1980 and 1990, the government acquired 40 percent of the targeted 8 million hectares (19.77 million acres) of land, and 71,000 families out of a target of 162,000 were resettled.

The 1992 Land Acquisition Act was enacted to speed up the land reform process by removing the “willing seller, willing buyer” clause, limiting the size of farms and introducing a land tax, though the tax was never implemented.[3] The Act empowered the government to buy land compulsorily for redistribution, and a fair compensation was to be paid for land acquired. Landowners could challenge in court the price set by the acquiring authority. Opposition by landowners increased throughout the period from 1992 to 1997.

While some land was purchased by the fund, few families were resettled. Instead, hundreds of abandoned and expropriated European owned or leased farms ended up in the hands of cabinet ministers, senior government officials and wealthy indigenous businessmen. Most British and Americans cut their losses and money, alleging widespread corruption. To date, fewer than 70,000 of the people of Zimbabwe have been resettled, most without the necessary infrastructure to work the huge commercial farms on the 12 hectare plots they have been allocated.

At that time, British contribution in terms of aid to Zimbabwe stood at a half billion pounds since independence. Of this total, £47 million was targeted for land reform, and approximately £100 million was budgetary support which could have been used for land reform.

In the 1990s, less than 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) were acquired, and fewer than 20,000 families were resettled. Much of the land acquired during what has become known as “phase one” of land reform was of poor quality, according to Human Rights Watch. Only 19 percent of the almost 3.5 million hectares (8.65 million acres) of resettled land was considered prime, or farmable.

Britain’s initial 44 million pound resettlement grant, which Mugabe’s government spent by 1988, formally expired in 1996.( Please check when the land invasions started to give you the reasons, why Mugabe continues to say they British have an obligation to honour. FACTS ARE STUBBORN)

As part of the implementation of the 1992 Land Acquisition Act, the government published a list of 1,471 farmlands it intended to buy compulsorily for redistribution. The list came out of a nationwide land identification exercise undertaken throughout the year. Landowners were given thirty days (as the 1992 Act demanded) to submit written objections.

On 5 November 1997, Britain’s then secretary of state for international development, Clare Short, described the new Labour government’s approach to Zimbabwean land reform. She said that the UK did not accept that Britain had a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding the Lancaster House commitments, Short stated that her government was only prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy. She had other questions regarding the way in which land would be acquired and compensation paid, and the transparency of the process. Her government’s position was spelt out in a letter to Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister, Kumbirai Kangai:

“I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we were colonised, not colonisers.”
“We do, however, recognise the very real issues you face over land reform. We believe that land reform could be an important component of a Zimbabwean programme designed to eliminate poverty. We would be prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy but not on any other basis.”

The letter concluded by stating that a programme of rapid land acquisition would be impossible to support, citing concern about the damage which this might do to Zimbabwe’s agricultural output and its prospects of attracting investment.

Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia commented on her statements by saying “when Tony Blair took over in 1997, I understand that some young lady in charge of colonial issues within that government simply dropped doing anything about it.”

The government organised a referendum on the new constitution, despite having a sufficiently large majority in parliament to pass any amendment it wished. Had it been approved, the new constitution would have empowered the government to acquire land compulsorily without compensation. Despite vast support in the media, the new constitution was defeated, 55% to 45%. There was wild jubilation by the MDC’s local and foreign supporters, prompting “End of Mugabe” headlines in the British and Zimbabwean media.

A few days later, the pro-Mugabe War Veterans Association organised like-minded people (not necessarily war veterans, as many of them were too young to have fought in the Liberation War) to march on white-owned farmlands, initially with drums, song and dance. As the “liberation” continued, the seizing began to take on a more violent aspect. They claimed to have “seized” the farmlands. A total of 110,000 km² of land was seized.

The referendum result prompted the government to delay the parliamentary elections, so that an intensive voter registration exercise could take place. In the June parliamentary elections, ZANU PF got 51.7% of the vote (62 seats), the MDC got 47.5% (57 seats) and ZANU-Ndonga got 0.8% (1 seat). The composition of the new parliament prevented the government from making further amendments to the constitution without opposition support.

[edit] 2002

Mugabe defeated Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in presidential elections in March 2002. The incumbents picked Land Reform as the basis of their campaign.

[edit] 2004

On June 10, 2004, British embassy spokesperson Sophie Honey said: [7]

The UK has not reneged on commitments (made) at Lancaster House. At Lancaster House the British Government made clear that the long-term requirements of land reform in Zimbabwe were beyond the capacity of any individual donor country.
Since independence we have provided 44 million pounds for land reform in Zimbabwe and 500 million pounds in bilateral development assistance.
The UK remains a strong advocate for effective, well managed and pro-poor land reform. Fast-track land reform has not been implemented in line with these principles and we cannot support it.

The Minister for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement John Nkomo said, on June 5, 2004, that all land, from crop fields to wildlife conservancies, would soon become state property. Farmland deeds would be replaced with 99-year leases, while leases for wildlife conservancies would be limited to 25 years. However, there have since been denials of this policy.

These are some of the things which took place and its not that Mugabe got up and just started pushing for land invasion. So this willing buyer, willing seller was done in Zimbabwe in 1980s, and please inform yourselves of the facts. Its about economic control of African resources and keeping the African subservant which is wrong.Independent without economic independence, but dependence on Europe which South Africa will soon be faced with. Its only if the people understood what is happening around them, yet most a clueless. The strikes by the construction workers, tells you, how short sighted our people are, just too emotional.The World Cup can be moved easily, and that will be disastrous. Themba Ndou on July 9, 2009, 3:38 pm   


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