INTRACTABLE problems associated with the controversial land reform programme have forced government to appoint a sixth land audit committee to recommend the way forward.
The new committee will be led by the Department of Policy Implementation in the Office of the President and Cabinet. It will work with the Ministry of Special Affairs responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement to assess productivity on allocated farms, availability of critical farm equipment and maximum farm sizes.
Policy Implementation minister Webster Shamu said his committee would not necessarily be auditing the land reform but assessing whether cabinet instructions had been implemented.
“We accept that there were problems in the implementation of the land reform,” Shamu said. “Our duty now is to identify those problems and facilitate their corrections. It is the duty of the government to ensure that whatever was wrongly done is corrected. We will not hesitate to take action in consultation with the Lands and Agriculture ministries.”
Sources said the new committee’s probe was equivalent to an audit because it would seek to resolve issues such as occupation of peri-urban farms.
Farmers who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent described the exercise as another waste of resources considering the confusion on farm allocations.
A succession of audit committees, inquiries and taskforces have revealed serious irregularities in the land reform exercise but little has been done to address these problems.
First to be appointed was a parliamentary audit. After the MPs’ team, another committee led by former Land Reform minister Flora Bhuka was appointed. It revealed gross irregularities in the programme, especially the violation of the one man, one farm principle.
Prominent politicians were allegedly implicated in the grabbing of farms for themselves. Results of the Bhuka report were never made public by government.
Another audit committee led by former cabinet secretary Charles Utete uncovered similar problems. The Utete committee shot down government claims that it had resettled 300 000 and 54 000 farmers under models A1 and A2 respectively.
Only 27 000 farmers had been settled under the A1 scheme and 7 000 under A2, it said.