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Government must set priorities right

The events unfolding on the land reform programme leaves a lot to be desired.

Sunday View with Tafara Shumba

I have discovered that there are some people who still believe in the law of the jungle.

These people have benefitted from a national programme and are now shutting out others from getting land. They do not mind whether there are others who are in dire need of land — they no longer want the programme to continue.

Several reasons, most of which inconsequential, have been given to support their selfish motives. The land reform programme must continue until all Zimbabweans who are in need of land and have the farming proficiency benefit. This is more so considering that land was the reason behind the liberation struggle.

Of late, the media was awash with stories of land invasions. These land invasions are just symptoms showing that demand for land is still very high. Unfortunately, these land hungry people have been labelled squatters. They are not. These are just people who are reclaiming what they rightfully deserve.

The Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement is currently auditing the land reform to restore order. Unfortunately they want to start by evicting the people who are alleged to have illegally resettled themselves on undesignated land.

Whilst lawlessness on the farms is not condoned, Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora must set his priorities right. These people have been very productive on the so-called grazing land. Some of them are holders of valid offer letters given to them by the previous minister. It is only that we have a growing trend where every new minister changes everything done by his or her predecessor.

Government should come up with alternative farms to resettle these productive families before evicting them. In this regard, repossession of farms from multiple owners and unproductive people must be prioritised in the audit exercise.

Some got farms well above the stipulated sizes. These farms must be parcelled to capable landless farmers. The productive farmers on undesignated farms are, by far, better devils than the unproductive farmers on the designated farms.

Zimbabwe needs to reinstate its status of being the breadbasket of the region. For the past 14 years, government has been investing a lot in farming with a view to revamping the sector which used to be the backbone of the national economy. Not much dividend has been realised from this investment.

Some unscrupulous beneficiaries of the agricultural inputs and mechanisation even had the nerve to sell what they got free of charge, for quick money of course. These people must be the first port of call for the Lands ministry if we really want to put our economy on the rebound.

At the peak of the land reform, it was not as difficult as it is today to get a farm.

Those who were young then, are finding it extremely difficult to get a mere five hectare plot. Those who benefitted are making it difficult for them. Some land officers are even demanding bribes while other politicians are protecting some white farmers whose farms would have been identified by the district lands committee for resettlement.

We know that these white farmers paid protection fee. These people are making a time bomb that will explode in the future. The landless will one day demand equitable distribution of national resources.

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