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.***

The land permit con

The land permit con


Out of the crooked timber of Zanu PF, nothing straight will ever be made.


I detest it when Zanu PF takes advantage of the ignorance of the masses to create the delusion that they are empowering them.

The sad reality is that the masses believe them despite evidence over the past 34 years that Zanu PF is not only incompetent in planning and managing our economy, but pervasively self-centred, selfish and arrogant.

I was on PowerTalk the other day with Oscar Pambuka and a Zanu PF praise singer trying to discuss the potential impact of land permits and whether it is really an empowering instrument as has been endorsed by President Robert Mugabe.

I was quite amused when some callers asked whether I was Zimbabwean given my contrarian view on the effectiveness of the permits to empower farmers and allow them to create wealth unhindered by Zanu PF political motives. I guess that claim by Mugabe that Zanu PF is a party of simple minds is true.

Land remains an emotional subject and it is easy to fall into the irrational rhetoric trap and use history to justify what has been essentially a disastrous policy that has decimated our economy. I continue to say that the principle of land ownership by the majority is correct; there is no argument about that. However what is the use of owning an unproductive asset?

The recently announced land permits achieve the objective of ensuring that those who occupy land can pass it on to their descendants and also to their spouses.

That’s about all it does.

The permit is, however, very clear those farmers do not have title since the land belongs to the State and they cannot sell it. The permit only gives farmers occupation rights and, therefore, land is not an asset to the farmer as it has no market value and cannot be traded.

In addition to the above, the Lands minister may terminate this occupation and give the farmer 90 days to vacate. The farmer can then be compensated for his developments on the land within 180 days of being evicted.

Of course the value of those developments will be subject to dispute and we all know that white farmers have not been compensated to this day, despite the constitution requiring that they be compensated. The bona fides of government to adhere to the constitution and compensate for loss therefore remains questionable.

Now I was at pains to try to explain that this land permit only gives use of land and cannot therefore be used as collateral by the framer since the farmer does not own the land. In addition I see no reason why the minister has the right to terminate the occupation except for political reasons.

I further explained that it is difficult to trust this government on valuation and compensation of any developments done given its history of non-payment to white farmers who have been rendered destitute for political and racists reasons.

Unfortunately, the 220 000 farmers out there with offer letters are going to get a document that does not enhance their economic condition, but merely entrenches Zanu PF control over who gets what and when.

The land permit is, therefore, a con designed to create a delusion that farmers own the land which they occupy and yet they have no title.

This is a very simple fact that most farmers out there are ignorant about.

The problem we have in Zimbabwe is that our agricultural land is not productive.

In the instances where it is, farmers are growing tobacco and not food crops. This means that we cannot achieve food security as a country, but more concerning will the plight of the in excess of 100 000 tobacco farmers who are growing a crop whose quality is increasingly deteriorating and are therefore likely to go bust.

That is a huge risk that our “simple-minded” Zanu PF members cannot grasp because they have been duped.

In order for agriculture to be viable, farmers must have titles over their land so that they can borrow and also develop it over the long term knowing that they are secure.

Secondly, most of these farmers are not experts and have very little knowledge on running a farming business. This means we need to build capacity and skills first for them to create sustainable livelihoods.

The current situation means that although these farmers have occupation rights, they cannot borrow to develop and diversify their output and are therefore caught in an agricultural poverty trap.

That is not empowerment as Zanu PF wants to claim, it is actual impoverishment of the masses who will be stuck on a piece of land that they cannot develop further.

Now I just don’t know what happened to our education.

I think the masses are indeed literate, but are not well-informed to make sound judgment on economic matters that affect them.

Zanu PF continues to take advantage of this ignorance to entrench its influence at the expense on real economic progress and real empowerment of the people.

Empowered societies have titles over the assets that they own. They create wealth by leveraging these assets and by making them productive. T

hey must operate unlimited and uninhibited by government or its ministers who cannot dispossess them of their assets or issue decrees without considering the consequences.

This government has a history of wanting control in business and being the king maker in all sectors for political reasons. It also does not understand commerce.

That is not about to change.

This culture will not lead to us to develop Zimbabwe to its full potential and that is my fundamental point of departure.

We must not rest we have a President and ministers in government who actually want all Zimbabweans to prosper in any field, who understand economics and put the country first.

The struggle continues!


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