WASHINGTON — A government-funded audit in Zimbabwe has revealed serious irregularities in the redistribution of land seized from white commercial farmers in 2000 and parcelled out to indigenous people, some with no knowledge of taking care of productive farms. According to the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper, the National Agricultural Land Audit which was conducted in the country’s 10 districts and 10 provinces between October and November last year and only covers 6 per cent of the targeted land, also revealed that some farmers sold the farms and others leased them without government approval.
Tendai Bare, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Land Commission that was in charge of the auditing process which involved over 18,000 farmers, told the newspaper that fraudulent land allocations and other gross irregularities resulted in low agricultural output in the country.
As a result, the commission recommended a thorough clean-up exercise to ensure that land is utilized accordingly unlike today in which thousands of farmers are failing to till the land due to lack of financial resources, poor planning and multiple farm ownership, which has resulted in haphazard land tillage, improper record keeping, employment of unskilled managers and different government departments issuing lease agreements and other documents.
Agriculture Minister Perrence Shiri says he has seen the audit report and expects the government to work on it soon. Zimbabwe seized productive white-owned commercial farms in 2000, leaving over 4,000 whites stranded, a situation that angered Britain and other nations tied to white Zimbabweans.
Agricultural expert, Mandla Nkomo, says the audit may result in the transformation of Zimbabwe’s land reforms, leading to huge investments by local and international business entrepreneurs.
“I can say without any equivocation that, as I speak to you I’m in The Netherlands, people are aware of the potential of Zimbabwean agriculture, people are willing to participate in reforming Zimbabwean agriculture … What they need is confidence and if this audit can be used as a tool for creating confidence I think it will attract the right kind of partners around the table to move this forward.
“We just need to manage the process better and I think people will step up and make sure that we move this forward and remember that the private sector does not mean companies only listed on the New York Stock Exchange, it means people like you and me. We also have a role to play and we can play a role if the right conditions are created for us.”