via No quick fix- The Zimbabwean 18 February 2015 by Magari Mandebvu
Older readers may remember that some land was redistributed and resettled long before 2000. They may also remember that nobody who got a plot of land then became rich overnight. Those settlers had to tighten their belts for some years and work hard to make their land productive. After 10 to 15 years, they began to prosper.
By 2000, Corner Store business centre, serving Hoyuyu resettlement scheme, the northern part of the biggest swathe of resettled land in the country, stretching between the Harare-Mutoko road and the Harare-Mutare road, was becoming a rival to Mutoko and Murewa as a refreshment and refuelling place for buses and individual travellers on the Harare-Nyamapanda road. They had “made it”, but that took a lot of time and effort.
In other areas, people moved into what had been untouched bush, especially in the Zambezi and Sanyati valleys. They suffered less restrictions – for example people in resettlement schemes were not allowed to have any other job but in empty communal lands nobody forbade them to earn other money which they could use to develop their land.
But they got less help. In resettlement schemes, roads, schools, crop marketing centres and clinics were built even before the settlers moved – but the result was much the same: 10-15 years of hard work before settlers could feel the full benefits of their labour.
Some people bought farms from white farmers who were moving out. Even those new commercial farmers had to sweat for at least 10 years before they saw a steady profit. These people needed to learn more, perhaps, than those who got smaller plots, but nearly all were learning new things about how to manage a farm, big or small.
Now, 15 years on, we should be seeing the benefits of the “Third Chimurenga”. I may not have the full picture; has anyone seen any benefits?
Some new farmers could not expect to succeed, either because they didn’t plan to become serious farmers or because they had no equipment, training or help.
Many chefs who were given fine big farms were not prepared to do the work needed to succeed as farmers. They had other jobs; they may have had other ideas about what a farm was for. Anyone who only wanted a private hunting lodge probably sold off the farm equipment, even irrigation pumps and pipes.
The small settlers of 2000, whether war vets or not, had very little experience of growing anything, no equipment and no money. If they were really out of luck, they were allowed to choose a plot on a commercial farm where the labourers who had worked the farm for the previous owner and could have taught them the best uses for the land, had been driven away and some sharp operator had sold the irrigation pipes and anything else he could ship out.
The poor war vet only had his bare hands, maybe a badza, and the bare earth. He faced a much tougher struggle than either kind of post-1980 small settler, and nobody helped him. Many such new farmers could not see that they would ever succeed. They gave up sooner or later and who could blame them? As a result, some formerly productive commercial farming areas are producing much less crops now than they did in the years before 1999. Other areas, which the former commercial farmers left to graze their cattle, even on rich soil north of Harare, have some small farmers now, but far less than you see in communal areas. That land is still under-used.
Yes, I’ve heard there are successful A2 farmers in Masvingo, but we’re still importing maize every year. Somebody just didn’t plan for 2000. Somebody did plan for 1980, hence the different outcomes (at least until everything collapsed).
And now we’re seeing the mining industry collapsing through the same kind of unplanned “action”.
Would you trust “planners” like we’ve got to run a piggery?