Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Editor’s Desk: Immediate gain behind plunder

Editor’s Desk: Immediate gain behind plunder

September 30, 2012 in Editorial
During last Wednesday’s News Hour, ZBC screened footage of the ruined citrus 
plantations in Guruve district in Mashonaland Central.

From the Editor’s Desk by Nevanji Madanhire

In the news clip, provincial Governor and Resident minister Advocate Martin 
Dinha ordered the Guruve council to surrender all plantations allocated to 
it during the land reform programme with immediate effect. He said failure 
to do so would be in contravention of the Consequential Provisions Act (of 

The footage showed that all citrus plantations given to the local authority 
were in what ZBC understated as a “sorry” state as a result of neglect. The 
ZBC footage showed that the plantations — all seven of them — given to the 
council had been vandalised and the bulk of the trees destroyed by veld 
fires. In an attempt to salvage the situation the government had allocated 
the plantations to some farmers deemed productive and given them offer 
letters, but the council was against the idea and continually disrupted the 
new farmers’ activities.

The dispute between the farmers and the council had led to the continued 
dereliction of the plantations, hence the move to invoke the Consequential 
Provisions Act. Dinha said he was concerned over the under-utilisation of 
the plantations, saying the disruption of farming activities by the Guruve 
council was a form of sabotage of the land reform programme. Dinha was 
probably referring to Clause 6 of the Act which validates all offer letters 
issued before the fixed date and are not withdrawn by the acquiring 

The state of the trees — most of them burnt in wild fires — some just dried 
up due to lack of moisture and the rest almost invisible due to the long 
wild grass choking them, must have left a lot of people in tears. Irrigation 
infrastructure had been ripped apart and workshops vandalised by workers.

Reports from around the country and Google Maps reveal that this is the 
general state of citrus plantations in the country, particularly in estates 
around Chegutu.

ZBC was very courageous to flight the footage during the same week that 
President Robert Mugabe was in New York City attending the 67th United 
Nations General Assembly. Mugabe has used the land reform programme, which 
he has touted as a resounding success, to throw brickbats at Western 
countries he accuses of trying to sabotage the programme by slapping 
sanctions on him and a coterie of his officials to effect a regime change 

But the citrus plantations debacle is a manifestation of everything that has 
gone wrong with the land reform programme and all other programmes 
ostensibly meant to redress colonial imbalances. The plantations were, in 
the heat of the moment, allocated to people who had no clue of how to use 
them productively.

During the days of land occupations when this was pointed out, many 
Zimbabweans who said the land was being allocated to people who did not have 
the requisite skills and wherewithal, were labelled racist. Such sentiments, 
according to the proponents of wholesale acquisition, implied that blacks 
were incapable of doing what whites could do. But common-sense, not racism, 
was at the heart of the sentiments, as the plantations now show.

Now it’s time to swallow humble pie!

But what must get Zimbabweans thinking is the puncture on our pride that the 
plantations have inflicted. Zimbabweans had inured themselves to the 
relentless criticism of the land reform programme from around the globe and 
were beginning to speak with one voice that the programme had indeed gone a 
long way in redressing historical imbalances, and was irreversible. The 
local private media and the foreign Press were beginning to publicise 
success stories.

Recently, a powerful American news organisation had carried a story on the 
land programme and how it had empowered thousands of new tobacco farmers who 
would otherwise never have had access to land and would still be living in 
abject poverty. What the report did not say was that these thousands of 
farmers were mere appendages of foreign capital, mostly Chinese, as they 
were contract farmers financed by foreigners who reaped bigger benefits.

But the major point to note is that what has happened in the citrus 
plantations is not unique to the orange sector. Besides the tobacco sector, 
which is heavily foreign funded, all other sectors have been left derelict 
due to the lack of expertise and finance. What has become clear is that 
faced with lack of money and skills, the new farm occupiers chose the 
easiest way to survive, though temporarily. They chose to loot whatever was 
available and vandalise the infrastructure; ripping it apart and selling 
whatever could be sold.

It happened at Kondozi Farm where the most successful horticulture concern 
was torn to the ground in a matter of a handful seasons, striking a mortal 
blow to a sector Zimbabwe was among the global leaders. Now there is no 
horticultural sector in Zimbabwe to speak of. All the flowers and vegetables 
we used to export have dried out. All the jobs this sector used to sustain 
have been snuffed out.

But instead of learning a lesson from all the mistakes that were made in the 
farming sector, the leadership of this country has decided to employ the 
same wanton tactics in industry, commerce and mining through an 
ill-thought-out indigenisation programme which is already beginning to have 
devastating results on the country’s economy.

The point is that indigenisation, like land reform, is not being done for 
the noble reasons that are touted. It is being done so that the same people 
who invaded farms and discovered that farming wasn’t as easy and as 
rewarding as they thought, can have another dip into the cookie jar, before 
sanity is restored.

Anyone who doubts this ought to just take a peek at what is happening at 
conservancies, particularly the Save River Conservancy! What all the noise 
emanating from the Save debacle is hiding, is that all the other 
conservancies around the country have been destroyed leaving the Save the 
last one where rich pickings can still be made; hence the dog-eat-dog 
fighting among comrades. What is most disheartening is that the same model 
is being used:

Make as much money as you can, while you still can. So the animals are being 
hunted down and much money made without putting back any penny into the 
venture to ensure its sustainability.

It has happened to the vegetables and flowers, then to the fruits and now it 
is happening to the animals and also the minerals. And soon it will be to 
the money in the banks.

What will be left of the country for our children? 


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