Zimbabwean former head of the Commercial Framers Union, a grouping of mostly white farmers, has reportedly said that the country’s ongoing land audit would be a “a big test” for the Zimbabwean government to rope in white farmers.
“It is not an easy task. Some of the multiple farm owners are top officials. We wait to see if they will be named. Another test is to see if, once the resizing is done, they will be able to work with the white farmers.
“I think this is what they need to do and it’s quite gratifying that the president [Emmerson Mnangagwa] has said that he is willing to work with white farmers,” Business Live quoted Hendrik Olivier as saying.
Olivier said this just a few weeks after reports said that the Zimbabwean government had started its land audit, as the southern African country moved to try and address some of the problems encountered during its controversial land reform programme.
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the Zimbabwe Land Commission deployed teams of 60 enumerators in all eight farming provinces “for the comprehensive agricultural land audit”.
The exercise was expected to end on November 24.
Earlier this year, Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri said that the government was committed to addressing “injustices” committed during land reforms.
“Our government is firmly committed to a process of the need for corrective measures to deal with the consequences of past injustices,” Shiri was quoted as saying by Sunday Mail.
Shiri also, however, said it was important not to create “new injustices”.
“Our policy acknowledges the property rights of existing land owners. It also recognises the legitimate demand for justice from those who have been dispossessed or excluded,” he said.
Business Live quoted Shiri as saying: “The issue of the resizing of the farms to the recommended standards will be pursued in earnest.”
A previous informal audit by authorities exposed irregularities in the allocation of farms, with some children as young as 10 years old reportedly getting land, the report said.
Former president Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.