The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is urging authorities to establish a land commission to investigate multiple farm ownership in the country amid reports that several farms are not being fully utilized.
Addressing a news conference Thursday at his party's Harvest House headquarters, MDC-T Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Lands and Water Development, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, said several farms countrywide were not being put to good use resulting in the country's poor economic performance.
Nkomo said several senior government officials are multiple farm owners, adding that poor management and non-utilization of most of those farms is affecting economic growth.
In view of this, the MDC-T is calling for the immediate establishment of a land commission in line with the new constitution that will carry out a land audit.
“We demand the urgent establishment of the Zimbabwe Land Commission in line with the country's Constitution that should immediately carry out a comprehensive, transparent and non-partisan audit to weed out greedy multiple farm owners.
“Land resources, taken as a whole, remain chronically under-utilized and inefficiently managed. The continued growth of the country will require a coherent and pragmatic approach to land use planning and management. The issues of tenure, linking communal area agricultural land productivity to service agro-industrial opportunities and acceding to regional and international conventions, treaties and declarations need therefore, to be dealt with.”
While most multiple farm owners are reportedly in the government, Nkomo said he's pessimistic the authorities will move with speed to set up the commission. Among the multiple farm owners, Nkomo singled out the First Family accusing Grace Mugabe of literally owning the whole of Mazowe district.
“Last month, Grace Mugabe took over 800 hectares of prime land at Mazoe Citrus Estates and Manshou Game Reserve in Mazowe, leaving hundreds of workers unemployed and homeless. Last year, Grace Mugabe forcibly grabbed 1 600 ha of Mazoe Citrus Estates. Similar reports are coming from across the country where Zanu PF supporters are moving in and disrupting farming activities.”
However, President Robert Mugabe is on record calling for a one man-one farm policy.
The MDCT's call for the establishment of the land commission comes at a time when a Harare High Court judge recently ruled that the government should repossess farms distributed under the fast track land reform program that are under-utilized.
Nkomo also complained of the partisan distribution of food aid and farming inputs instigated by ZANU PF working in cahoots with traditional leaders and agricultural extension officers countrywide.
“The actions of the Zanu PF government are in fundamental breach of the Constitution, which clearly states in the Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms Act that every citizen has a right to sufficient food, safe and potable water. We urge Zanu PF to stop gambling with people's lives for cheap political gain.
“Further, in a country where more than two million people need food aid, there are disturbing reports from across the country that Zanu PF officials, government officials and traditional chiefs are demanding Zanu PF membership cards from the villagers before they receive the government food aid and agricultural inputs”
Meanwhile, Nkomo urged the government to focus on the development of smallholder irrigation schemes, increase the participation of women and the unemployed youths to embrace irrigation farming and ensure that cost saving drip irrigation is developed in all provinces.
Studio 7 failed to get a comment from agriculture minister Joseph Made.