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.***

Illegal lessors must lose farms

Illegal lessors must lose farms

Herald, Monday, December 06, 2010

Government embarked on land reform about a decade ago to empower the
majority of Zimbabweans with their primary resource that had for a long
time remained in the hands of a few white farmers and absentee landlords.

Over 70 percent of the country’s arable land was occupied by a few
white farmers while the majority black Zimbabweans were either landless
or occupied the greater percentage of infertile land.

Thus the land reform programme sought to correct the imbalance created
through years of colonialism.

Indeed, today, thousands of Zimbabweans have been allocated land in some
of the areas with the most fertile soils. Land has been a true economic
empowerment tool for the majority of people who have seen their standard
of living transforming in a short period of time.

But last week’s reports of new farmers allegedly leasing land to
white former commercial farmers in Hurungwe district in Mashonaland West
Province made very sad reading.

Zimbabwe got bad publicity on the international arena because of its
commitment to empowering the people, culminating in the West’s
illegal economic sanctions regime yet some of the people that President
Mugabe fought so hard to have them benefit from their land have chosen to
sleep with the enemy.

Instead of cementing the gains of the agrarian revolution, some misguided
new farmers have decided to go to bed with the same people we fought
against to reclaim our land – through leasing the land to them.

This is one of the most unfortunate things that have happened to
Government efforts to empower its people.

Leasing land to white former commercial farmers is not good at all for
our land reform efforts as our detractors, unhappy at having their kith
and kin losing land, can only use such action to smear the programme.

Leasing land can also be seen as an admission on our part that we took
back the land when we were not fully prepared to productively use it.

Our detractors will obviously not view it as an isolated case but use it
to judge the programme’s failure or success.

We strongly believe that all farmers who have been fingered in the lease
deals are strong candidates for losing the land. They have proved to
everyone that they occupied land when they did not have the resources to
use it. They have shown the country that they could, working with the
white former commercial farmers, be on a crusade to discredit the land
reform programme.

It boggles the mind how the farmers could give back the land that we
fought so hard to reclaim and got sanctions slapped on us for it. By
going into marriage with the white former commercial farmers, the new
farmers have clearly shown they are ingrates.

We want to urge the land authority to repossess land from all the new
farmers involved in the land deals with white former commercial farmers.
We would have expected those farmers, finding it difficult to
productively use the farms, to surrender them to the Government.

There are many indigenous people out there, who did not get land yet they
are blessed with the financial resources to take up farming. What the
land deals have also exposed is multiple land ownership, as some of the
new farmers may simply be leasing the extra farms that they got
allocated.

We urge the responsible authorities to investigate the matter thoroughly
and take the necessary action against all the farmers that have brought
land reform into disrepute.

There is no harm in surrendering the land to the Government when you find
the going tough. This is exactly what the new farmers should have done.
The Government is very clear on land. All the land allocated to the
thousands of beneficiaries remains State land and as such no one is
allowed to lease it to a third party.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered new farmers to
stop signing production contracts with anyone, including companies
without its approval. Some farmers had been hiding behind contracts when
in actual fact, they were leasing the farms.

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