Land should be allocated to all deserving Zimbabweans
In our very first policy document at the formation of the MDC in September 1999, we categorically called for the carrying out of a robust and sustainable land reform program that will ensure that land is allocated to all deserving Zimbabweans, particularly the historically disadvantaged people who are still crammed in over–populated and unfertile communal lands. Thus, right from the outset, the MDC has always advocated for a holistic and sustainable land reform exercise that will ensure national food security as well as the development of commercial and small–scale agricultural schemes. Put simply, the issue of land reform has always been central to the MDC policy trajectory.
We are alarmed and extremely concerned by President Robert Mugabe’s recent call at his so –called youth interface rallies for the compulsory takeover of all land that is still occupied by the few remaining white commercial farmers. We are authoritatively advised that there are less than 200 hundred white commercial farmers who are still occupying farm land in Zimbabwe. Indeed, most commercial farm land has since been acquired by the State for re–distribution mostly to black AI and A2 farmers. It is also a public secret that most high–ranking Zanu PF politicians, including Cabinet Ministers and some top civil servants and securocrats, have been allocated more than one commercial farm per individual. We also have got it on very good and reliable authority that at least one senior Cabinet Minister has amassed no less than 19 farms for himself and members of his immediate family.
The MDC advocates for a land reform program that will ensure that the commercial agricultural sector is not decimated. We would like to ensure the agricultural sector is developed and strengthened by offering security of tenure to all resettled farmers as well as making sure that resettled farmers are given access to advanced training facilities as well as bank loans to enable them to produce on a commercial scale. It is a very sad reality that most people who have been resettled on large commercial farms have completely failed to become productive farmers largely because the Zanu PF regime has utterly failed to institute vibrant and sustainable programs to equip the resettled farmers with appropriate skills and finance.
Commercial agriculture is a capital intensive business enterprise and surely, we cannot expect the resettled farmers to be efficient and productive when they are operating in an environment where there is lack of proper and adequate support for the agricultural sector.
More importantly, the MDC is extremely concerned by the retrogressive and blatantly racist call for the compulsory acquisition of all farms that are still being occupied by the few remaining white farmers.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of commercial farm land is lying idle right now and if a transparent land reform audit would be undertaken by the government, a lot of farms can be made available for resettlement by all those deserving Zimbabweans who have applied for land. We would like the land reform program to be streamlined and rationalised to ensure that a person will only be allocated one farm and thus, do away with the corrupt scourge of multiple farm ownership that is rampant amongst the ruling elite.
We would also like to assure all resettled farmers that an MDC government will not take away their land. If anything, we will capacitate resettled farmers and offer them security of tenure so that land immediately ceases to be used as a tool for political patronage. We are determined to bring back the glory days to Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector. Going forward, we would like the land reform exercise to be totally de–racialised and de–tribalised. Zimbabwe is one nation and we are all Zimbabweans regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or creed; including political affiliation.
MDC: Equal Opportunities For All
Obert Chaurura Gutu
MDC National Spokesperson