Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Dinha should hang his head in shame

Comment: Dinha should hang his head down in shame

Saturday, 13 March 2010 18:10

President Robert Mugabe has said that the government will not tolerate the illegal leasing of land to former white commercial farmers and warned that those involved in the practice would be punished. He has said he was aware that the practice was widespread and involved high-ranking government officials and senior members of his Zanu PF party. One of the resolutions of his party’s congress last December was that leasing of farms to former white commercial farmers would not be permitted.

When he reiterated this point to the media two weeks ago we knew action would come fast – and it has, but only against the small fish.

Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha has shamelessly named a handful of chiefs as the culprits. According to reports these chiefs have already been dispossessed of their farms.

Dinha named Chief Makope of Mvurwi as one of the wrongdoers and told the state-run Sunday Mail that a probe was under way in his province that would expose several more chiefs involved in the practice.
He should hang his head in shame.

He never referred to the land audit done in his province which fingered powerful Zanu PF oligarchs as the chief offenders.

It was reported last month that the audit had revealed that Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo and Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu were the chief offenders in the case.

He ignored, completely, recent reports that top military officers in Mashonaland West were leasing their farms to former commercial farmers because they themselves did not have the capacity to farm them.

There are reports galore that the practice is prevalent in all provinces. From a strictly rational point of view the arrangement is not evil per se. It ensures that the farms are utilised and the country fed.

It benefits the new farmer who lacks the capacity to farm and also benefits the country that is in dire need of food. In the face of the vandalism that accompanied land reform, leasing to those with the wherewithal to use the farms productively also ensures that the farms are re-mechanised.

It is only when we look at the practice from the romantic revolutionary perspective that it becomes wicked.

President Robert Mugabe has pinned his legacy on the land reform programme which he has dubbed the Third Chimurenga – a racist enterprise that has endeared him to super patriots around the African continent, but
impoverished his own people.

Indeed he has preached ad nauseum the success of the land programme at every possible forum without mentioning, even once, its downside, such as the inability of the new farmers to practise the business of commercial farming.

He would not want to admit that his land revolution has gone desperately awry. The leasing of the farms back to their former owners, who are white, becomes a great humiliation to Mugabe.

It constitutes a victory for the white farmers who have all the right now to point at him and say, “We told you so.”

The world at large would also be vindicated in their argument that the whole land reform exercise was a vindictive backlash against white Zimbabweans for supporting the MDC.

In all the multitude  of scandals that have erupted in the country since Independence in 1980 it has turned out that only the very small fish have been netted while the big fish get away scot free.

It was never in the nation’s wildest imagination that the action against those who lease out farms would touch the big fish who are also the multiple farm owners.

But what the people hate is the open deceit displayed by functionaries such as Dinha that the government is doing something about people who break the rules when everyone knows this to be a lie.  


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