Blessings Mashaya 26 May 2017
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s controversial programme to redistribute land taken
from white farmers cost 1,5 million jobs, Finance minister Patrick
Chinamasa has said.
“Right now our economy is highly informalised. I always give the
statistics that in 1999 or thereabout, there were two million workers in
the formal sector, by the time we reached 2005, because of the revolution
in the land reform programme, the formal sector collapsed and the two
million formal workers dwindled to half a million and could be just about
less,” Chinamasa told the Senate last week.
“It is our responsibility to now move that economy from the informal and
back to the formal again. That is the transition which we are now
travelling. I am very happy with the progress that we are making so far.
It is a process and not an event, it cannot happen overnight.”
Critics say the country’s once strong agricultural base has been damaged
by the chaotic land redistribution programme.
President Robert Mugabe introduced land reforms in 1999 aimed at
addressing colonial imbalances whereby a few white farmers own most of the
best agricultural land in Zimbabwe.
More than 4 000 farmers were forcibly evicted from their land in often
violent struggles. The violence – and allegations of rigged elections and
rights abuses – led western donors to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“… in the agricultural sector…we were talking about 4 000 (white)
farmers. There is no way an economy can grow and expand when a vital
productive asset like land is held by one or two people.
“So, it is important that we realise that because we moved from that
ownership of land and now we have the A1 farmers. We distributed that land
to about 350 000 households, you can also multiply the number of people
who are dependent on that piece of land. Now, that change caused
disruption in our productive system. So, initially there was a fall of
production, everyone was laughing at us.”
“I cannot see how we could have gone from that skilled land ownership to
the current one where it is now owned by the majority of our people,
without a transition.
“There has to be a transition and what we are talking about here Madam
president is how to manage that transition from yesterday to today and
tomorrow,” he said.