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.***

Eric Bloch – Lies, damned lies and statistics

Eric Bloch: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Thursday, 03 March 2011 19:33

Eric Bloch

IT was a British prime minister of the 19th century, Benjamin Disraeli, who 
said that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics”, and that is the 
impression gained by this columnist from a recently published book, Zimbabwe’s 
Land Reform:  Myths and Realities, by Ian Scoones, Nelson Marongwe, Blasio 
Mavedzenge, Jacob Mehenehene, Felix Murimbarimba and Chrispen Sukume.
With funding partially provided by the United Kingdom’s Department for 
International Development (DFID), a group of British and South African 
professors conducted a study of Zimbabwe’s programme of land reform as 
pursued since 2000.

The researchers state that their aim was “not to deny what has happened, 
including some appalling violations and abuses”.

However, they add that “there is an enormous amount of confusion, 
misinformation and misunderstanding about what happened to whom, where, and 
with what consequences over the last decade, and a more nuanced story 
urgently needs to be told”.

To all intents and purposes, they conclude that there are five key myths on 
the land reform programme, being:

* Zimbabwe’s land reform has been a total failure;

* The beneficiaries of Zimbabwean land reform have, to a major extent, 
been politicians and those related or connected to the political hierarchy;

* There has been no investment in the resettled lands;

* Agriculture has been totally destroyed, and there is consequential 
intense food insecurity;

* Zimbabwe’s rural economy has been totally decimated and destroyed.

Scoones and his colleagues say that “by challenging these myths, and 
suggesting alternative policy narratives, we do not want fall into the trap 
of offering an unjustifiably positive picture.  We want instead to present 
the story as we have observed it on the ground: warts and all”.

However, they have blatantly not achieved their declared objective for they 
conclude that thousands of families who were recipients of land succeeded in 
establishing a base for themselves as serious producers “with the capacity 
to contribute significantly to Zimbabwe’s agricultural economy”.

They seek to reinforce this by stating that “today Zimbabwe has a radically 
altered agrarian structure”.

In 1980, over 15 million hectares was devoted to large-scale commercial 
farming by around 6 000 farmers.

This fell to around 12 million hectares by 1999, in part through a modest 
but, in many ways, successful land reform and resettlement programme.  Today 
there are still five million hectares under large-scale farming, some of it 
in very large holdings”.

“There are perhaps only 200-300 white commercial farmers still operating, 
with most having been displaced, along with a substantial number of farm 

Most land today is under small-scale farming, either as communal areas or 
resettlement.  Estimates vary, but around seven million hectares have been 
taken over through the land reform programme since 2000.”

The study acknowledges that there have been some major changes in 
agricultural production, with commodities such as tobacco, beef, 
horticulture, tea and coffee having been severely reduced in volumes under 
the implementation of the land reform.

It further notes that food production has diminished, with special reference 
to maize.

But, notwithstanding the study noting these negative developments, it 
nevertheless concludes that, overall, land reform has been a success.

Its authors appear to have had no, or very little, regard to the huge 
economic prejudices attributable almost wholly to the land reform, and to 
the magnitude of blatant and contemptuous disregard for human and property 
rights, and law and order.

They note the significant numbers of Zimbabweans, and their families, who 
have been resettled, whilst ignoring that over 300 000 agricultural workers 
were rendered unemployed, rendering them and almost two million dependants 

They similarly discount their own acknowledgements of the decline in 
agricultural production, to an extent that between 2000 and 2009:

* Tobacco production fell from 237 million kg to 45 million kg, (albeit 
very markedly increased in 2010 and 2011), and the consequential negative 
impacts upon essential foreign exchange generation.

* The national livestock herd has shrunk to about 35% of its 2000 level.

* Until 2 000, not only did Zimbabwe produce enough maize to feed the 
nation (1,8 million

tonnes), but also to export to such an extent that Zimbabwe was regarded as 
the regional breadbasket.

* Foreign investment was grievously deterred by Zimbabwe’s arrogant 
breaches of its Bilateral  Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, 
by it determinedly failing to compensate the displaced farmers, and by fears 
that the State’s expropriation of the farms could well be a precursor to a 
future expropriation of urban properties and of businesses (recently such 
fears being reinforced by the enactment of Indigenisation and Economic 
Empowerment legislation).

* Hundreds, if not more, of former white farmers and their families were 
victims ofpronounced violence, wholly associated with the land reform 
programme, sustaining severe injuries and sometimes loss of life.

In conducting their study, the researchers concentrated heavily on Masvingo 
province.  They argue that “the Masvingo story  is more generally 
representative of the geographical majority of the country beyond the 
Highveld” (whilst admitting that it was in the Highveld that there was “the 
greatest disruption of high-level, politically-driven land grabbing” and 
“where the concentrations of election violence, particularly in 2008, 

And yet, whilst not disputing that Masvingo was a significant agricultural 
area, its overall contribution to Zimbabwean agricultural output prior to 
the land reform programme was a relatively small one, as compared to that of 
Mashonaland East, West, North and Central, Midlands, Matabeleland North and 
South, and Manicaland.

Therefore, a study almost wholly focused on only Masvingo Province cannot 
automatically yield results representative of Zimbabwe as whole.

No matter how fervently some, including the study’s researchers, may contend 
that the land reform programme was not a disaster, the reality is that it 
was two disasters, being on the one hand the horrendously economic and 
humanitarian consequences and, on the other hand, that Zimbabwe did need a 
land reform programme, but one that was constructive and nationally 
beneficial, just and humane.

The programme pursued precluded such a  necessary and desirable programme.


Fresh Chingwizi headache for govt

Fresh Chingwizi headache for govt    12/7/2019 Source: Fresh Chingwizi headache for govt | Newsday (News) BY TATENDA CHITAGU Survivors of the Tugwi-Mukosi floods in 2014

Read More »

ED dangles carrot to war veterans

ED dangles carrot to war veterans – NewsDay Zimbabwe   2/7/2019 By Everson Mushava PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has ordered all the country’s eight provincial

Read More »

New Posts: