Villagers in Masvingo province say the politicization of the land reform program has resulted in the implementation of a scheme that favours supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party.
The villagers are unhappy over the manner in which the land redistribution exercise was conducted. Among the dismayed local people is Timothy Mambava of Bikita district, who says it is worrying that the land question remains unresolved almost 36 years after the country attained independence from British rule.
“Personally I am not content with the land issue. The land redistribution was politicized and those who were supposed to benefit did not benefit. If you were not coming from a certain political party you could not benefit and those who benefited are politicians who are underutilizing the land.
"The intended beneficiary the ordinary man got nothing ... are still stashed in small pieces of land in the villages.”
Another villager, Onisimo Guvava, from Dzoro communal lands in Zaka, says he is also disappointed about how the land issue is being handled by the government.
“I cannot actually say the land issue has been resolved. Those who went to war wanted to get back their land and redistribute it everyone but if you look at it only Ministers, MP and government officials used their political muscles.”
Critics have over the years claimed that some state and ruling party officials grabbed several farms while ordinary Zimbabweans were left out of the agrarian reforms, which started in 2000.
Like most Zimbabweans, Gutu villager Samuel Tutsirai says there should be a land audit to determine the current land distribution pattern in the country.
“I think those politicians who own more than one farm would be audited and give back some farms. The farms should then be given to those peasants who have nothing so that they become commercial farmers and have a source of income to fend for their families.”
Villager Netsai Kurai adds that women and youth were left out of the land reforms, making it a lop-sided scheme.
“ … 36 years youths have not benefited from the land exercise and also women have been sidelined. So the issue of land still needs to be addressed and land distributed to women and youths. The
exercise should be fair to all age groups and sex.”
Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora could not be drawn to comment about the land reforms as he was not reachable.