Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer
A lot of Zimbabwe’s irrigable land is underutilised, posing a threat to the country’s food security, although the farms have the potential of being highly productive.
The country was once the breadbasket of Africa, but some of the farmers who benefited from the Fast Track Land Reform Programme are not fully utilising the land.
It is time the country moves towards maximum utilisation of the land.
Thus, it becomes imperative for the Zimbabwe Land Commission to be firm with the findings of the third and final phase of the land audit underway and rationalise ownership and farm sizes.
The two previous audits recommended an integrated Land Information Management System (LIMS) after investigations revealed some cases of fraudulent occupations, illegal leasing and underutilisation of some land.
There is need for those who benefited to begin farming profitable crops and livestock, and acquiring additional funding and equipment to move towards commercialisation.
Using findings of the Zimbabwe Land Commission which are yet to be submitted to Parliament, farms that are being abused should be reclaimed and be given to others who will use them for the benefit of the nation.
“The duties of his caretakership should end now because the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement has decided to give someone Plot 3,” said Ms Chifamba.
“His duties of caretakership should end now and he should give plaintiff the right to own his property.”
It is time the country set special land courts that the Judicial Service Commission said can be set up quickly once the decision is taken.
The commission said it had staff suitable for the courts, while the resources needed were available, so nothing should stop them from being set as they are vital for the growth of agriculture in the country.
The land audit should also dig deeper, and end the high level corruption in the form of nepotism, patronage and abuse of power, as well as petty bribery and extortion that is said to characterise some of the land issues and disputes.
Nepotism deprives the agricultural sector of the right talent, yet the sector is one of the key drivers to achieve the country’s Vision 2030 of becoming an upper-middle income economy.
Many of the farms that were allocated during the Fast Track Land Reform Programme suffered vandalism and theft only to be left to lie bare.
Beneficiaries of the programme should strive to earn experience through studying what others who have been successful are doing and going for further training.
Land remains a valuable national resource that must be jealously guarded and effectively used for the benefit of current and future generations.
Government must make it a policy that all beneficiaries who are not using the farms for the nation’s benefit, must be kicked out and pave way for those who will use it effectively.
The land audit, without fear or favour, should establish the extent of land utilisation, as well as address the disparities of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme and device ways of improving agricultural production on the farms.
Zimbabweans should view agriculture as part of the local economic development.
Additionally, agriculture must be integrated into wider planning and investment frameworks starting at district level, linking farms to towns and cities near land reform areas, as this will improve employment and service provision opportunities.