via Zim remains stuck – DailyNews Live by Cathy Buckle 4 JUNE 2014
A regular soldier in the army before and after Independence, followed by 25 years of working in a Zimbabwe government department — a man in his 60s is now living in a shack on an acquired farm.
Pensioned off because of his age but unable to survive on this pension, this professional and educated man is living in a pole and thatched hut on an A1 plot on contested land.
There is no water on his plot, he has never been a farmer, has no livestock, no implements or equipment and no money to purchase inputs to grow a crop.
To add to his insecurity, he has no title deeds for the A1 plot and has only a photocopied offer letter which may or may not be authentic and which his family may not inherit when he passes away.
Fourteen years after the commencement of Zimbabwe’s land acquisition and re-distribution programme, the beneficiaries are in as much of a state of insecurity and uncertainty as the previous owners who still hold legal deeds to the land.
Agriculture has been hogging the media limelight recently but sadly none of the reports provide the desperately-needed evidence of the success or productivity of the fast track land reform programme.
They all say this critical sector is in a state of disarray.
First, we heard news of a brutal attack on a commercial farmer and his daughter in Guruve which left them both dead.
Then came reports that 600 villagers had occupied plots in sugar cane plantations in the south of the country in Triangle, demanding that they be allocated the land promised to them in offer letters they apparently received in 2012.
Further south in Mwenezi, the high level struggle by senior security personnel for the control of Mijingwe Ranch continues; latest developments involving a thousand villagers from the local community who gathered to protest the present takeover attempt.
The disarray at farm level is equally prolific in official circles. News that the Agriculture minister and his deputy had publicly contradicted each other over the ability of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), to purchase this year’s maize crop is a cause for great concern.
The deputy minister said in Parliament GMB didn’t have the capacity to purchase this year’s maize crop due to the state of its silos but the minister denied his deputy’s claims.
Made said the GMB wasn’t in what he called a “sorrowful state” but said that in cases where infrastructure required work, they had “erected temporary structures using poles, tarpaulins and grain bags.”
It doesn’t inspire any confidence to hear that the country’s strategic maize reserve is to be kept safe, dry and uncontaminated under tarpaulins and grain bags.
Hot on the heels of the Ministry of Agriculture’s GMB silo contradictions, ZBC were waiting to expose the latest offer letter scandal.
According to ZBC, people who had tried to identify the free land they had been promised by the government, discovered that their offer letters were fake.
Instead of being original documents printed on light green paper, the offer letters were on white paper and had been photocopied.
It was disappointing that ZBC didn’t do some research and mention that in the past 14 years countless white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms and homes by people possessing white paper and photocopied offer letters.
As each new sickening fact about land, agriculture and resettlement comes to light with nothing being done to correct the injustice, corruption or abuses, Zimbabwe remains stuck.
Like the pensioner soldier living in a shack on an acquired farm, we cannot move forward until this mess is sorted out.