BY SHINGIRAI VAMBE
GOVERNMENT programmes and policies, including the much-hyped command agriculture, suffered a huge setback due to lack of supervision, monitoring and evaluation by Cabinet ministers and office bearers, a Zanu PF central committee member has said.
Zanu PF central committee and Manicaland provincial council member Moses Gutu said all the programmes that government had rolled out lacked supervision, hence the lack of progress, particularly in the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Addressing land-seekers in Nyanga recently, Gutu said only 35% of land redistributed in 2000 was being utilised in his district and the remainder, though occupied, was unproductive because those allocated the farms had no interest in farming.
“Most farms here were given to tourists, who only come once in a while to visit their farms. The majority of the people on these farms are workers and some owners have since abandoned the farms and workers. We have seen cases of human-wildlife conflict escalating in Nyanga because wild animals are now hibernating in these unused farms,” he said.
The land redistribution exercise was widely condemned as many were allocated farms along political lines without taking into cognisance the ability of the individual to utilise the land.
Approximately 70% of land that was grabbed from white commercial farmers is unproductive as current owners have no access to lines of credit to fund farming activities. Some have no knowledge of the types of crops suitable for the areas where they were allocated land; neither do they know weather patterns or soil types, nor input requirements to ensure the lands yield more.
“I invited the Manicaland provincial lands officer, Clifford Mukoyi here, and went around the district. He was satisfied that most farms are vacant, but applicants are told everyday there is no land on offer. Since 2010, we have been told about rhe land audit, but nothing is coming out of it. Land should be given to those with the interest of farming, not selfish tourists,” Gutu said.
The Zimbabwe Land Commission is currently carrying out a comprehensive agricultural land audit. The audit is meant to identify land utilisation patterns and optimal farming activities which influence appropriate policies for increased agricultural productivity, poverty alleviation and sustainable utilisation of agricultural land.
Gutu said the command agriculture programme, just like the land audit, had failed to meet its target because of lack of supervision.
“Yes, there is climate change, but in majority of the cases, besides corruption and misuse of inputs, farmers are ill advised by their Agritex officers, who also lack fundamental farming knowledge”
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa before the turn of the century, has been reduced to begging for handouts from the international community to feed its impoverished citizens. The country now also relies on grain imports to augment its poor harvests, blamed on the El Nino-induced droughts.
Manicaland is one of the provinces with vast tracts of unproductive farms, including those allocated to ministers and government officials, with some putting as much as 300 hectares to waste. The farms have farmhouses, tobacco barns, pivots and vast water sources, including dams, which if tapped into would benefitthe nation.
“If the land audit was of great importance, the Chipinge farm wrangle (pitting Remembrance Mbudzana and former Swiss banker Richard Le Vieux) would not be an issue at this particular time. But I have noticed that there is corruption and lack of seriousness. Land seekers should be given small pieces of land such as 20ha each. It’s enough to bring back the name of the country on the map as the bread basket of Africa,” Gutu said.
Nyanga district administrator Nyashadzashe Zindove said: “We can only comment after getting an official report from the land audit. Yes, some are utilising their pieces of land, but there are those who have completely failed and only an audit report can help those who have been applying for land to get an opportunity replacing those who have failed.”
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