Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa aims to undo some land grab mistakes, says minister
Recently lands, agriculture, rural resettlement, water and climate minister Perrance Shiri said his country regrets some of the injustices of its land reform programme and is taking corrective measures, including compensating white farmers and working with them.
Analysts on Wednesday confirmed the move is a realisation by Zimbabwe’s government of the folly of forced land grabs.
An informal audit by authorities exposed irregularities in the allocation of farms, with children as young as 10 years old reportedly getting land.
Once seen as the bread basket of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s food production has plummeted, forcing it to import basic foodstuffs because of dire shortages of wheat, soya beans and other crops. The already desperate situation has been worsened by a huge budget deficit of $3bn (R41.94bn) and crippling shortages of foreign currency.
Agriculture accounts for 15% of Zimbabwe’s GDP and provides about 70% of its formal employment. Zimbabwe’s land reform resulted in a huge displacement of 6,000 white farmers, with about 300,000 black families benefiting.
But the programme has been abused by top Zanu-PF officials.
Former president Robert Mugabe reportedly owns at least 21 farms, which is against the government’s one-person-one-farm policy. His wife and children are also said to have benefited from the programme.
Addressing the senate in Harare, Shiri said the land audit will help flush out multiple farm owners. “The land commission is currently on the ground carrying out land audits where they want to establish the occupants, production levels as well as eliminate multiple farm ownership,” he said.
“The issue of the resizing of the farms to the recommended standards will be pursued in earnest. In a bid not to step on each other’s toes, our ministry officials are not currently pursuing the resizing of the farms up and until the completion of the land audit.”
Shiri said the land audit will also deal with ownership and boundary disputes.