The land permit con

via The land permit con July 17, 2014 by Vince Musewe

Out of the crooked timber of Zanu PF, nothing straight will ever be made.

I detest it when Zanu PF takes advantage of the ignorance of the masses to create the delusion that they are empowering them.

The sad reality is that the masses believe them despite evidence over the past 34 years that Zanu PF is not only incompetent in planning and managing our economy, but pervasively self-centred, selfish and arrogant.

I was on PowerTalk the other day with Oscar Pambuka and a Zanu PF praise singer trying to discuss the potential impact of land permits and whether it is really an empowering instrument as has been endorsed by President Robert Mugabe.

I was quite amused when some callers asked whether I was Zimbabwean given my contrarian view on the effectiveness of the permits to empower farmers and allow them to create wealth unhindered by Zanu PF political motives. I guess that claim by Mugabe that Zanu PF is a party of simple minds is true.

Land remains an emotional subject and it is easy to fall into the irrational rhetoric trap and use history to justify what has been essentially a disastrous policy that has decimated our economy. I continue to say that the principle of land ownership by the majority is correct; there is no argument about that. However what is the use of owning an unproductive asset?

The recently announced land permits achieve the objective of ensuring that those who occupy land can pass it on to their descendants and also to their spouses.

That’s about all it does.

The permit is, however, very clear those farmers do not have title since the land belongs to the State and they cannot sell it. The permit only gives farmers occupation rights and, therefore, land is not an asset to the farmer as it has no market value and cannot be traded.

In addition to the above, the Lands minister may terminate this occupation and give the farmer 90 days to vacate. The farmer can then be compensated for his developments on the land within 180 days of being evicted.

Of course the value of those developments will be subject to dispute and we all know that white farmers have not been compensated to this day, despite the constitution requiring that they be compensated. The bona fides of government to adhere to the constitution and compensate for loss therefore remains questionable.

Now I was at pains to try to explain that this land permit only gives use of land and cannot therefore be used as collateral by the framer since the farmer does not own the land. In addition I see no reason why the minister has the right to terminate the occupation except for political reasons.

I further explained that it is difficult to trust this government on valuation and compensation of any developments done given its history of non-payment to white farmers who have been rendered destitute for political and racists reasons.

Unfortunately, the 220 000 farmers out there with offer letters are going to get a document that does not enhance their economic condition, but merely entrenches Zanu PF control over who gets what and when.

The land permit is, therefore, a con designed to create a delusion that farmers own the land which they occupy and yet they have no title.

This is a very simple fact that most farmers out there are ignorant about.

The problem we have in Zimbabwe is that our agricultural land is not productive.

In the instances where it is, farmers are growing tobacco and not food crops. This means that we cannot achieve food security as a country, but more concerning will the plight of the in excess of 100 000 tobacco farmers who are growing a crop whose quality is increasingly deteriorating and are therefore likely to go bust.

That is a huge risk that our “simple-minded” Zanu PF members cannot grasp because they have been duped.

In order for agriculture to be viable, farmers must have titles over their land so that they can borrow and also develop it over the long term knowing that they are secure.

Secondly, most of these farmers are not experts and have very little knowledge on running a farming business. This means we need to build capacity and skills first for them to create sustainable livelihoods.

The current situation means that although these farmers have occupation rights, they cannot borrow to develop and diversify their output and are therefore caught in an agricultural poverty trap.

That is not empowerment as Zanu PF wants to claim, it is actual impoverishment of the masses who will be stuck on a piece of land that they cannot develop further.

Now I just don’t know what happened to our education.

I think the masses are indeed literate, but are not well-informed to make sound judgment on economic matters that affect them.

Zanu PF continues to take advantage of this ignorance to entrench its influence at the expense on real economic progress and real empowerment of the people.

Empowered societies have titles over the assets that they own. They create wealth by leveraging these assets and by making them productive. T

hey must operate unlimited and uninhibited by government or its ministers who cannot dispossess them of their assets or issue decrees without considering the consequences.

This government has a history of wanting control in business and being the king maker in all sectors for political reasons. It also does not understand commerce.

That is not about to change.

This culture will not lead to us to develop Zimbabwe to its full potential and that is my fundamental point of departure.

We must not rest we have a President and ministers in government who actually want all Zimbabweans to prosper in any field, who understand economics and put the country first.

The struggle continues!


  • comment-avatar
    Expat 9 years ago

    Well Vince, another well written piece, showing your correct understanding of the situation. Problem is those who need to read it probably don’t have access. “I think the masses are indeed literate, but are not well-informed to make sound judgment on economic matters that affect them”. How do you change this?

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    Impeccable minded Vince,again thank you for an eye opening piece.Indeed I shall take it upon myself to wise-up my constituence.Can’t allow manipulations anymore on our already weakened people in all forms.

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    Charles Frizell 9 years ago

    Zanu lies by default, I think we all know that. And as has been said above they are total control freaks. They are terrified that if people can operate outside the Patronage System they will no longer be able to control them which in turn means they will lose any election, and that in turns means that a great many will end up in prison or broke.

    I have also said before that it is tricky to give proper title to the land, beacuse someone else already has it. And no bank will lend against a colateral that cannot be seized and sold off to reclaim unpaid debt.

    Do we take the prize for “Stupidest Nationa” as well as beating almost everone else in “Most Corrupt Nation”?

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    Tinomunamataishe 9 years ago

    Spot on Vince. The sad thing is that there no one in that whole cabinet or politburo can see this glaring deficiency and point it out to the inept and corrupt Mugabe that there is nothing to make noise about here.

    Unfortunately the people will just remain poor and the rulers become richer which is what they have always wanted. Meanwhile they will be singing empowerment at every turn.

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    Johnny k 9 years ago

    The whole question of land has been used by Successive governmets as a tool to control the political voting patterns. From the time of Lobengula, Colonial Times, UDI and ZANU rule, land has been controlled by politicians and in turn traditional leaders. Chiefs are empowered by politicians to ensure that land is a weapon for political support. Until the whole country – commercial, communal and urban land is given value through Title Deeds, there will be no development. The traditional leaders need to have the power to control allocation of Land and resources removed from their mandate.
    Both farmers and industrialists have been unable to borrow from Commercial banks for 15 years because there is no security of tenure and land is thus valueless. This has stifled development. The whole concept is that if money is borrowed and unable to be repaid, the land is able to be sold by the bank to recover debt. This land is then transferred to someone who is able to purchase & work the land efficiently. No other system works anywhere in the world. Just a fact.
    The lazy and clueless become unemployed and the hard working and efficient become wealthy and empowered.

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    mandy 9 years ago

    For once Vince you have seen the light. This is the essential difference between indigenisation and empowerment. Empowerment is when you teach a person to fish. Indigenisation is when you distribute the fish and deny others the right of passage to be fishermen of their own. That was the question from 1980 that led to the Boka movement.

    The banks ‘naturally’ would demand collateral to allow blacks and whites to borrow money. Whites on commercial farms and in industry had title on their properties while the majority black man had nothing. Boka, seeing the limitations of feeding from the ever dwindling trough of parastatals, took the challenge to the Government. The government responded with disinterest. In essence the State was refusing to be drawn into the issue of empowering the emerging black business elite. Then all hell broke loose.