THE ruling Zanu PF has admitted for the first time that the controversial land reforms it masterminded five years ago are fraught with irregularities, a report by the party has revealed.
The concession by Zanu PF vindicates assertions by local pressure groups and the international community that the land reform exercise was hurried to achieve a political goal and that this has contributed to the decline in agricultural production.
Zimbabwe is grappling with acute food shortages caused mainly by disruptions to commercial farming and the shortage of inputs such as fertiliser and grain seed.
The Zanu PF central committee two weeks tabled a report outlining the problems at a closed meeting during the party’s national conference held in Esigodini.
The contents of the report angered President Mugabe who, in his closing remarks at the conference, lashed out at government departments for failing to deal with problems in the agricultural sector.
The report, titled Land and Land Reform, confirms that the latest land audit has revealed there are fresh farm invasions despite government claims that the exercise has been completed.
In highlighting some of the problems plaguing the land reform process, the report says the land audit currently under way has discovered that only 81 farms from a list of 6 482 acquired have been submitted to the Surveyor-General for title surveys.
From the list, only two farms in Matabeleland North and four in Masvingo have been submitted to the Surveyor-General for the title surveys.
The report further indicates that multiple-farm ownership is still prevalent country-wide.
“Double allocations and multiple ownership are still prevalent but the ministry is addressing the situation,” the report says. “Provincial land committees have been requested to take corrective measures as a matter of urgency.
This is one of the problems that is also being addressed by the land audit.”
Senior government officials and Zanu PF supporters have in the past ignored President Mugabe’s calls for multiple-farm owners to surrender their surplus farms.
Successive land committees appointed by Mugabe to take stock of the land reform exercise have all indicated that Zanu PF chefs owned several farms each but few have bothered to hand back the extra land.
The report also highlights vandalism or under-utilisation of infrastructure on state farms, government’s failure to deal with people on the land without offer letters, and those with offer letters but not on the ground.
“There is rampant vandalism of infrastructure and equipment on a number of farms, especially the destruction of tobacco barns,” the report says.
“A number of farmers without offer letters have been identified on the ground and these claim to have moved to the farms in the year 2000 and therefore claim that they are protected by the Rural Land Occupiers Act,” it says.
While the confusion on the farms continues, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is mobilising resources to import 50 000 tonnes of fertilisers needed by farmers for the current farming season.
Despite the widespread rains, reports on the ground indicate that there is little farming activity due to input shortages and on-farm disruptions.
The ongoing land audit has established that settlers are involved in the destruction of trees on the farms.
“The settlers are involved in wanton destruction of trees, selling firewood, gold panning, poaching and vandalism of farm properties among other things,” the report says.
The land audit seeks to address issues of farm utilisation, identification of property left on farms by former white owners, farm disputes, double farm allocations and the issue of multiple farm ownerships.
It is also expected to deal with cases of beneficiaries with offer letters who are not on the ground and farmers on the ground without offer letters.
“There are cases where existing infrastructure like dairy infrastructure is being converted into classrooms and in some cases coffee, citrus or timber plantations are being cleared to pave way for crop production,” says the report.
It highlights cases of illegal gold panners who are using prime farming land for mining activities.
The report also states that there is massive irrigation infrastructure on A1 farms that is not being used at all by the new farmers.
The government intends to amend Section 10 of the Farm Equipment and Minerals Act to allow it to compulsorily acquire former white farmers’ equipment and give it to A1 and A2 farmers.
According to the report, a total of 140 698 A1 families have been resettled on 2 740 farms while 14 856 A2 beneficiaries have been resettled on 2 280 farms.