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: Zanu (PF)’s missed opportunity

Land reform: Zanu (PF)’s missed opportunity

Zanu (PF) has become the tragedy of a party with seemingly good policies for 
the Zimbabwean populace failing to win free and fair elections. If one were 
to compare the policies of the different political parties in Zimbabwe the 
result would show Zanu (PF) winning overwhelmingly on the relative scorecard 
with respect to empowering the people.

But, why does this party seem to be struggling? Why does a party with 
evidently populist policies have to resort to violence to get votes? The 
bottom line is that the party failed to take advantage of the land reform 
programme, and its other empowerment policies.

The overall assessment of land reform gives conflicting results – depending 
on which lenses one uses. Pro-Zanu (PF) lenses tend to magnify the success 
of it while others seek to discredit it. This is only to be expected in our 
highly polarized society. The only consensus is that land is a major, 
complex emotional issue that should have been addressed many decades ago.

Objective analyses show that land reform had empowered some Zimbabweans. 
Government sources claim that about 300 000 families were allocated land 
under the A1 and A2 models. This is disputed because there has never been a 
full land audit.

Government records in 2009 show that the A2 model had resettled about 16 000 
farmers and the A1 model about 146 000. Even if the 300 000 is accepted as 
given, it is far less than people envisaged when the process was initiated. 
If we assume that each family has five people, we can infer that about 
1.5million benefited (this number is too liberal) – about 11% of the 
population of 13 million. The reader can judge whether this is success or 

Land: core of

the struggle

The majority of those resettled were Zanu (PF) supporters and senior 
government officials, including the army and war veterans. Many politicians 
and senior government officials received multiple farms. Land audits have 
been instituted but the results have not been made public for fear of 
exposing the personalities involved in this wanton greed.

The leadership lacks the will to deal with this. The reasons for this 
apparent inertia are surprising as the confiscation of multiple farms could 
easily have projected Zanu (PF) as a party intolerant of corruption and 
greed. Land reform is clearly unfinished business. It is a process which 
posterity will have revisited and inequalities addressed. This will not be a 
process of restoring land to former white owners but to address the black 
against black inequalities, which made it a dismal failure.

Zanu (PF) missed an opportunity to reverse their fortunes in the urban 
areas. Following the triumph of the “No Vote” in the 1999 referendum, which 
was widely regarded as a total rejection of Zanu (PF) by the people, the 
party panicked. They then turned to land to win back votes. But, how do you 
expect to improve your waning support by empowering only those who are 
already in the Zanu (PF) fold?

This is what we saw happening in the selection of the beneficiaries. Had 
Zanu (PF) followed an objective process it would have been their Lazarus 
moment. The Zanu (PF) government had scored very highly in the 80s and early 
90s through their policies of free education and healthcare. These policies 
succeeded (in the eyes of the public) because they were implemented in the 
true spirit of the liberation struggle before greed set in and corrupted the 
minds and hearts of those in power.

Without any doubt Robert Mugabe is a shrewd politician. He knew what needed 
to be done. We know that although the land reform was on the agenda from the 
80s going to the 90s it had started to lose momentum as powerful black 
politicians started joining the CFU, having bought farms under the willing 
buyer willing seller system. The cost of land had started soaring as the 
fears of political instability began to decrease in the mid-eighties.

The return of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole from his self-imposed exile and 
his speech on land reform, following by his resettling about 4000 families 
on his personal Churu farm served as a wake-up call for Mugabe. Although 
Zanu (PF), through the official newspapers was quick to dismiss Sithole’s 
opinions, Mugabe was quick to see a threat in his former boss’s utterances. 
He remembered the promises made during the liberation struggle. Land was the 
core of the struggle.

Land: unfinished business

Populist policies usually win crucial votes when push comes to shove at 
election time. The problem is that Mugabe allowed his lieutenants to turn 
the good intention of the land reform to serve only a few, leaving millions 
to suffer the consequences. The majority of the people, about 89% of the 
population, who did not benefit only saw severe food shortages, 
de-industrialization, cash shortages, price increases and many other ills 
that befell them.

Zanu (PF) will argue that that these were a direct result of sanctions. But 
debate continues to rage concerning this complex issue, which has been 
confused by deliberate misinformation and blatant untruths.

If one reads ZIDERA legislation, the reasons advanced were more to do with 
the method employed in the farms take over and the violence of the 2000 
elections. Has anyone stopped to imagine what could have happened if the 
land redistribution had been carried out in a non-violent way? There are 
significant chances that there would not be any ZIDERA today. It would have 
been extremely difficult to justify. – To be continued next week.


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