Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Editorial Comment: Be decisive in correcting land reform shortcomings

Editorial Comment: Be decisive in correcting land reform shortcomings

The land reform programme meant to correct the skewed land ownership which favoured whites has benefited more than 300,000 families who have been allocated land in prime farming areas which used to be a preserve of whites.

The challenge now facing government is indecision when it comes to addressing the shortcomings of the land reform programme. The noble idea to avail land to the landless Zimbabweans who were confined to barren land by the successive settler regimes has in some cases been hijacked by greedy individuals who are now multiple farm owners.

In some cases, individuals that are clueless when it comes to farming have targeted productive farms which are now pale shadows of what they were before the takeover. We want from the onset to emphasise that the main objective of the land reform programme has always been to ensure equitable distribution of land whose thrust should be increased production.

The land reform programme should therefore not be misconstrued as an exercise to just take land from white farmers and giving it to blacks. The programme is aimed at ensuring Zimbabweans share this finite resource especially the productive land which, as already alluded to, used to be a preserve of the whites.

It is against this background that government was emphasising co-existence between blacks and whites as it distributed land. Many white farmers that agreed to surrender a portion of their land for resettlement were allowed to stay on the land. Government now needs to be decisive and take robust measures to address the shortcomings of the land reform programme.

Communities should always come first ahead of individuals when it comes to who should benefit from any given piece of land. We want at this juncture to commend Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko for his bold decision to order Rodney Mashingaidze out of Maleme farm in Matobo district in Matabeleland South province which is benefiting the local community.

The portion which was allocated to Mashingaidze, who has an offer letter from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, is the one that has running community projects that include poultry, Ebenezer Agricultural College and Scripture Union camp, Shalom. Many locals have benefited from agricultural training at the farm and many are benefiting from the chicken out-growers projects.

The government should find another farm for Mashingaidze who like any other Zimbabwean deserves to benefit from the land redistribution programme. Only last week Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Shuvai Mahofa barred Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi from taking over part of Barquest Farm which is home to the province’s largest hatchery project that produces 100,000 day-old chicks per week.

Minister Mzembi, like Mashingaidze, has an offer letter but Minister Mahofa considered the community’s interests ahead of Minister Mzembi. It is such bold decisions that are required to address land reform shortcomings that are impacting negatively on a noble programme meant to empower Zimbabweans.

It defeats all logic to destroy what is already benefiting the communities just to satisfy an individual. The people, as has always been government policy, should always come first ahead of individuals.


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