Land beneficiaries must produce – Cathy Buckle

via Land beneficiaries must produce – DailyNews Live by Cathy Buckle  12 MARCH 2014

Recent comments made by Judge Nicholas Mathonsi in a seven-page ruling on farm ownership and underutilisation in the Harare High Court have rightfully raised many eyebrows.

Judge Mathonsi ruled that Title Deed holder but evicted farm owner Heather Guild be allowed back onto her Mapeta Farm in the Burma Valley and that the ministry of Lands should withdraw the Offer Letter held by Fungai Chaeruka.

Judge Mathonsi said Chaeruka had “breached his contract” by failing to use the land given to him under the Fast Track Land Reform Programme and that the failure to use land given out in land reform was “scandalous.”

This ruling by one very brave Judge begs the question: Has a precedent finally been set for people holding on to land but not producing anything simply because of the colour of their skin or their political connections?

In his ruling, Judge Mathonsi made comments that should send chills down the spines of many land reform beneficiaries who are living in Borrowdale Brook, Gun Hill and other “leafy” Harare suburbs instead of on the farms they were given.

The Judge said: “The policy on land reform is not recreational, neither is it designed to accord beneficiaries some pastime.

“It is meant to benefit those willing and able to utilise land. One cannot be allowed to hold on to large tracts of land they are not using simply to baby-sit an inflated ego.”

Judge Mathonsi’s ruling serves to remind us of the original requirements for beneficiaries of A2 farms in the land reform programme.

Invited via the press to make applications for acquired commercial farms that were to be designated as A2 properties, there were a number of requirements for prospective beneficiaries.

Applicants were supposed to know what they were doing when it came to farming: they were required to have experience, qualifications and training and have their own, independent resources without relying on government support.

Applications had to be accompanied by a business plan, cash flows and budget.

With these conditions required, and apparently met by the recipients of A2 farms, everyone is asking the same thing 14 years later: where is all the food?

Last week in Parliament, a worrying question was raised by the deputy minister of  Environment, Water and Climate who asked what government was going to do about servicing dams on former privately-owned commercial farms.

The deputy minister’s question noted that the new farmers were not prepared to maintain dams on resettled land and said his ministry had inadequate resources to undertake the necessary maintenance.

This raises even more questions about the suitability of farm beneficiaries. As every farmer knows, the dam is the lifeblood of the property — without water there is no farm.

Maintaining the dam is a critical, year round operation; leaks are filled, erosion controlled, walls reinforced, silt removed and vegetation cleared.

For a long time, outsiders have been asking why, 14 years after land re-distribution, we are importing 80 percent of our food and are not even able to feed ourselves?

Why every year we have to hold out a begging bowl for international food aid.

Our perennial excuses of erratic weather, insufficient inputs and inadequate government support are now falling on unsympathetic, deaf ears.

It is long past time that we start helping ourselves out of this mess.

We cannot afford to wait until the next round of elections in 2018 before land, who is on it and what they are producing falls under the national spotlight again.

Judge Mathonsi has shown the way forward and opened the door for others to follow.



  • comment-avatar
    farai 8 years ago

    Current farmers have to contend with inadequate funding and badly structured facilities. George of Barclays recently remarked that, we used to give white farmers working capital plus school fees and holiday allowances and they would not come out of the farm” We get a working capital facility with 6 months tenure that automatically converts into a punitive loan at the end of the term! Can we conclude that on the basis of current evidence, new farmers have failed? Can we also conclude that all the necessary support to ensure successful farming has been given? Can we further conclude that the only route to fix the problem of food security is restoration of colonial era land ownership? If you answer yes to any of the above, you are a fool!

    These are birth pains of land reform and to expect a miracle after 14 years of an internationally hostile environment is stretching it. Productivity will come back but the land is not going back! Sanctions, real,imagined,or whatever,Parangeta or no Parangeta Zimbabwe will survive and be prosperous that you can count on!
    Cry on for your lose of Privilege, you are the architect of this radical response to your failure to co-exist.

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      Jono Austin 8 years ago

      Farai so because I happen to be born in Zimbabwe with a white skin I can’t own farming land. You are nothing but a vile racist. I breathed Zimbabwean air probably longer than you. I saw Zimbabwean sunsets and sunrises longer than you! I walked this land before you were born-and you decide that because I have white skin that I am second class. And by the way I was never a farmer but you have the gall to tell me I am not allowed to own farming land because of the colour of my skin! You and your ilk have destroyed this country with YOUR racism and lack of willingness to coexist with different races. Tell me, if you are so sure of the rightness of your position should that not be reflected in a booming Zimbabwe and not the current rubbish tip! You are on the wrong side of history you racist. This is the 21st century, not the 1800’s or prior.

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      Parangeta 8 years ago

      Faraikhan – such venom!

      You miss the point as usual. Birth pains are an indication that something is about to be BORN, not DIE,

      ZAN-PF’s Mugarbage policies have him, dis-Grace, Robert Jnr owning over 15 farms combined. Where the beef!

      Get a life, get someeducation and keep to the point, reverse racism is Mugarbage’s forte, try and resist!

      Only then will we stop, “Crying for Our Beloved Country”.

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    Dale Doré 8 years ago

    Should we really be cheering this judgement? We must be careful that we do not fall into the trap of condoning an unlawful land grab by suggesting that being productive is the only criteria for ownership. Note that the judge said nothing about Heather being the legal owner of the farm, which had been seized without compensation, nor why she was thrown off her farm in the first place. If the new farmer with the offer letter had been marginally more productive, should he have been allowed to keep Heather’s farm? Should a judge really be the arbiter of who may and may not acquire a farm based on productivity, but without considering the right to property and the legal possession of that property? It seems to me that the impunity of taking property from one person and simply handing it to another has moved from the political arena to the courts. Heather, in short, still does not have secure rights to her property. The farms of the remaining white farmers remain under threat. Tomorrow, if the political winds change, Heather could again lose her farm. I am happy for her, but before anything else we must recognise that the land policy on which the judge ruled is inherently unjust and that it contravenes international law on property rights.

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      Parangeta 8 years ago

      Who in State House, ZANU-PF or their in-the-pocket-appointed Judges, wearing wigs and red robes – a la The Old Bailey, care about International Law.

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    Johann 8 years ago

    @ Farai-14 years of birth pains! still no title deeds to use as collateral, now who is responsible for that?

    The beneficiaries of the land reform base their tenure not on title deed but on the support of Mugabe, he will die soon and then they better be sure they know who to support after that.
    No Bank will lend without security and Mugabe’s security will die with him. What ever the case there’s still going to be no stability in home grown food until title deeds are reissued or restored.

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      Fallenz 8 years ago

      Of what value would those “title deeds” be..? Seems those papers were of little value to the previous owners… you know, the ones who employed so many, fed the nation, paid millions in taxes, but were beaten, maimed, or killed because of their colour.

      What needs to first return to Zim are Integrity and Honor and Justice. Those were the first casualties of a war that was never actually about freedom or independence. The raiding of the nation’s assets by ZANUPF, leading to myriads of off-shore ZANUPF bank accounts has proven that. Greatest bank heist in history…..

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      Parangeta 8 years ago

      Johan, in answer to your question – “Sanctions by our filthy, conniving Western enemies”, we all know that!

      We have a countryside of ‘cell-phone’ farmers ha! ha! No wonder The People starve…..

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    Nyoni 8 years ago

    Løok are the Chinese more entitled to land than anyone else. Who so ever wants to own land and is productive should do so. The land that war taken illegally was 1000 times more productive than now. WHY. Try and be realistic and admit the whole land grap was a stuff up by Bob the angel the of death.

    • comment-avatar
      Parangeta 8 years ago

      Brilliant Nyoni, you really ‘fly’ with that comment!

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    lost birthright 8 years ago

    90% of the grabbed land that was producing is now derelict. Technology for dams, irrigation, pest control and the national herd no longer exists. The government has shown its stupidity and ignorance to the world how a soil, climate and mineral rich country can fall into such a dilapidated unproductive nation. Sanctions on it is only on individuals not the productivity of the land. Who is fooling who, need I ask?

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    Mapingu 8 years ago

    Nothing unexpected about the whole thing. If I remember, a team of academics and/or agric experts was once commissioned by the same government (RGM government of course)some years ago to study possible land re-distribution models/approaches for the country. Among a number of models the commission included the very same one followed Zanu pf years later. Not because the commission recommended it, the opposite is actually true. They warned against it, and they termed it ‘populist approach’. They vividly described it very much the same way it was later implemented by zanu pf years later, except for the accompanying blood-shed and may be the highly partisan nature of the zanu pf model. That, may be they didn’t foresee, or at least they simply decide not to highlight the possible violent nature of the approach as it later turned out to be. But they indicated that the approach would involve the ruling party taking land from the minority who had it and parceling out land to any black persons who choose to have it regardless of potential to gainfully utilize it. That could of course generate votes for the distributing party & but negatively impact on the economy. They also stated that sooner than later the non-selective distribution would have to be reversed by forcing those who will not manage to utilize the pieces of land out and giving it to those who would have proved capable for economic sustenance of the country ………. Isn’t it what seems to be at play here? That’s why, looking back some of us wouldn’t be surprised. Chicks simply have to come to roost at some point. It can not be electioneering through and through – even the gullible voters need food in their hollow stomach; and somebody has to do real farming not cellphone-farming.

  • comment-avatar

    farai farai excuses excuses The farmers that moved to Zambia are feeding us with less time than the 14 years you speak about. If you are a farmer you have failed Farai Failed.

  • comment-avatar

    @farai 14 planting seasons of failure? Come on man even a child that age has a full set of teeth.

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    Parangeta 8 years ago

    The Zimbabwe Land Reform Report of 2005, by no less than Nobel Laureate, Sylvia Nasar (A Beautiful Mind, advises the following –

    “The equitable redistribution of viable, arable farmland, embracing the emergent non-white population of Zimbabwe, can be a successful and fair model.

    Under or non-utilized farms, and multiple farm ownership, should be targeted first.

    A three step advancement to land ownership should follow. Firstly, in a partnership with an experienced farmer. Thereafter, husbandry internship. Lastly,property freehold and title….and so on.

    Not the knee-jerk, racist, hateful confiscation of productive land. Now we have ‘farmers’ on their cell phones when thy should be on their Ferguson’s plowing. Now we have ‘farmers’ driving Mercedes SUV’s instead of farm trucks full of hay.

    Now we have ‘farmers plowing the wrong furrows’ altogether!

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    Whites should cry as they divided and set against Africans, why should Africans go to your land and claim this is our land, Jono you are not even second class, who brought you here first and then he who brought you should compensate and return to your origin country.

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    komuredhi 7 years ago

    Zimbabwe land belongs to black people. It was stolen from them in the first place. At whatever point in history blacks have to claim the land back. Finish and klaar