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.***

Land reform in need of review— Ray

Land reform in need of review— Ray

Thursday, 24 November 2011 17:59

Gamma Mudarikiri

UNITED States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray on Wednesday said there was 
need to review the country’s land reform programme embarked on in 2000 
because the majority of the population remained landless and destitute. Ray 
was speaking in Bindura where he commissioned the US$2 million Mashonaland 
Livelihoods Restoration Programme (MLRP). The MLRP is an irrigation project 
which was funded by the embassy in partnership with the Africare and Zambuko 
Trust. This irrigation project is set to help more than 5 500 vulnerable 
small-scale farmers in Bindura and Guruve.

Immeasurable farmland, he said, lay idle countrywide while most people 
remained landless, hence the need for an immediate review of the land reform 
programme to ensure that the land-hungry majority are catered for.

Ray said more people should have a fair share of land if the country was to 
meet the human dignity the armed struggle sought to secure. He said 
Zimbabweans needed to think constructively and agree on transparent and 
flexible measures in land administration to increase land productivity.
“The US and I personally believe that land reform in Zimbabwe is necessary,” 
said Ray. “Far too many Zimbabweans, black, white and in-between, lack the 
opportunity to make the most of their talents, ideas and ambitions.”

He said the US government was never against the general objectives of land 
reform to economically empower people, but was against violence and 
displacement of people through which the programme was implemented.

The US government, Ray said, had recognised the need for the ordinary people 
to access land long before the controversial programme, which resulted in 
the majority of the 4 500 white commercial farmers losing their land, but 
had expected it to be done fairly.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Charles Taffs concurred with Ray 
saying large tracts of farmland were lying idle in the country, and his 
organisation had engaged the government to correct the irregularities but 
this had yielded little results.

Taffs said the CFU had started training and mentorship programmes 
countrywide in a bid to equip small-scale farmers with requisite farming 
skills. He also urged subsistence farmers to shift to commercial farming to 
increase food production in the country.

Ray also castigated the Zimbabwean government for failing to respect 
property rights. He said American business leaders had seen opportunities 
created by the economic recovery, but they were concerned with the security 
of their investments.

“As Zimbabwe moves into its future, its greatest challenge is to show its 
own citizens and foreign investors alike that their claims to property are 
safe. Uncertainty in property rights is a deal breaker,” said Ray.

He stressed that consistent and clear laws governing property rights were 
critical at this stage. He said the US was not opposed to empowerment and 
equitable distribution of national wealth, but wanted it to be implemented 
fairly and in a transparent manner.

“I hope you will remember that true empowerment does not come at a neighbour’s 
expense,” Ray said. He said politically-motivated dispossession and 
retaliation created conflict rather than empowerment.

Bindura district administrator Cuthbert Wubaye hailed the US government 
support saying the programme had empowered the community since 180 community 
members had been trained in agro processing and marketing with optimism that 
the number would increase.


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