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Did Zimbabwe Land Reforms Destroy Agriculture Sector?

  • Gibbs Dube

Most Zimbabweans say the country’s land reforms devastated the agriculture sector, leading to food shortages in the past 13 years as a result of low production in commercial farms which were taken over by indigenous blacks with no sound farming knowledge.

On the other hand, Zanu PF argues that the land reforms benefited indigenous people who were pushed off their productive land by the white settlers in the 19th century.

For Dion Theron, former president of the Commercial Farmers Union, government’s appropriation of land owned by white farmers destroyed the sector, once regarded as the mainstay of the Zimbabwe economy.

But Zanu PF activist Morris Ngwenya, who is also a political commentator, said the land reforms empowered large numbers of blacks though some of them are not engaged in productive activities on their farms.

Zimbabwe is currently importing its staple food, maize, from Zambia following a disastrous season last year. State officials have attributed the food shortages to drought that ravaged Matabeleland, Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and other regions.

Commercial farmer Themba Dlodlo said the government should conduct training programmes for indigenous farmers who took over white commercial farms in order to boost cereal production.

Zimbabwe’s unsettled land question still remains a controversial issue, almost 34 years after independence from British rule.

Political and social analyst Shadreck Gutto of the University of South Africa said President Robert Mugabe’s party will be remembered for running a dysfunctional economy.