Property rights take centre stage in fresh land compensation debate

via Property rights take centre stage in fresh land compensation debate | SW Radio Africa   by Alex Bell on Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Commercial farmers in Zimbabwe are moving to shift the focus of the land compensation debate to become a national issue, with individual property rights at the centre of the argument.

This is one of the issues being debated during a series of meetings on farm restitution and compensation in Zimbabwe this week. Featuring South African land valuer Mills Fitchet, discussion has zeroed in on the danger of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector being undervalued because of the nation’s land policies.

The land grab campaign that has defined the current farm ownership system effectively destroyed property rights in Zimbabwe, with vast tracts of land being claimed as ‘state land’ and parceled out along partisan lines. This situation still persists, despite warnings that without a return to a productive agricultural sector, enshrined by rights to property ownership, Zimbabwe’s economy will fail to recover.

John Worsley-Worswick, who heads the Justice for Agriculture (JAG) group, said Wednesday that “there is a necessity to bring the land issue to closure.” He told SW Radio Africa that protection of property rights and individual access to title deed was key for Zimbabwe to move away from being a ‘begging nation’, reliant on highly expensive food imports and aid.

“In Zimbabwe the agricultural land is the biggest national asset, and if this land is not valued properly, to an international standard, then we become a beggar nation and we will have to accept the reconstruction of Zimbabwe on someone else’s terms,” Worsley-Worswick said.

He said that Zimbabwe, which has the potential to be a strong player in international food production, “can’t afford to have this asset undervalued in any way.” He added that the local land tenure system, which “hamstrings” agricultural endeavours, means the country’s agricultural value is not what it could be.

“Property rights issues and compensation issues are going to be at the forefront of concerns before we can go forward. These rights have been grossly infringed and trampled on for years. Individual rights to property is a basic human right and these issues have to be dealt with before going forward,” Worsley-Worswick said.

The property rights issue has previously been argued as the key for Zimbabwe’s agricultural restoration, along with a transparent, independent land audit to decipher exactly who owns what in the country.

Such an audit has recently been recommended in a new report about the prospects for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. The report, Zimbabwe’s International Re-engagement: The Long Haul to Recovery argues that if the country is to salvage its crippled economy and attract investment, the government must demonstrate that Zimbabwe is a worthwhile business destination and credible partner.

The report says the government must move to reduce uncertainty about the multi-currency system, indigenisation, and complete a full, impartial land audit.



  • comment-avatar
    johann 10 years ago

    I doubt there will ever be a land audit, it wouldn’t suit certain high powered individuals.

  • comment-avatar
    12 years a slave 10 years ago

    Who owned the original title deed to the land? Were they paid for the land? Why solve only half the payment system? 12 years a slave explains why they own the land and how they can afford to keep harassing the government, they have generational wealth which enables them to keep fighting for land they did not buy for us.

  • comment-avatar

    Why have a land audit? The state owns all the land, what more do you need to know. Land can’t be bought or sold so it has no value. Why audit something that has no value it doesn’t make sense.

    Of course, one day when we decide not to be poor again then land will be owned by individuals once more. That isn’t going to happen any time soon because the political power that ZANU gets from owning the land is more important than individuals becoming successful farmers.

  • comment-avatar
    Kingston Dutiro 10 years ago

    There will be no compensation to the Whites. On the contrary they must compensate the Blacks for colonial crimes to acquire that land and unrealized profits during colonialism. The battle is just starting.

    • comment-avatar
      Will the Doctor 10 years ago

      @ Kingston

      Ah good – and when you’re finished with that ‘battle’ then we#ll talk about the Matabele compensating the Kalanga and the Bantu compensating the San for ‘colonial crimes’

  • comment-avatar
    gizara 10 years ago

    year 2000 ” Land is the economy, economy is the land”

    year 2014 ” where is the economy”

  • comment-avatar
    Will the Doctor 10 years ago

    Compensation first, investment second!

  • comment-avatar
    Reader 10 years ago

    There we go again Black/white/brown accusations.

    ARE WE ZIMBABWEANS or are we a bunch of idiots following idiots ways.

    Many crimes committed over thousands of years and you still harbor feelings of things you were not part of.

    yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not come, Live for today.

    Harboring Hate and evil thought will get you in the end before your supposed or imagined enemies.

    We Zimbabweans have been through so much we have suffered together during the bad days we shared what we had with those that did not and now you want to go back to the old days that you cannot remember, you are the racist not the white, not the black not the brown but you yourself, 12 years a slave & KINGSTON DOTIRO. you are the problem and there a very few of you left.
    time for you to bury the hatchet think of the future and go forward. These farmers fed the world and have nothing to show for it their own investment fed YOU yes YOU and your families, and you took and enjoyed, they are the experts let the experts do what they do best.

    would you go to a mechanic if you were sick, would you go to a doctor if your car was broken, No you would go to the expert, so let the expert farm the land and you, well you go do what you are qualified to do. you are obviously not a humanitarian but you do think you are far superior. Lets see what you have given this great country, i bet its nothing and you still cry like you are owed something you are a disgrace to the people you call your ZIMBABWEAN family. Will the black people ever try to live in harmony wit the rest of the world. ZIMBABEW needs the rest of the world as much as we are part of the global village no matter your country of origin. I pray you stop being so racist and become Human.

    And I am not being racist at all just factual.