DESPITE loud declarations by government functionaries that the fast-track land reform programme was a huge success, the Utete report makes bare a plethora of problems caused by bureaucracy and
The problems highlighted in the report, especially failure by government to observe its own ground rules, have for the past three years been highlighted in the legal challenges to the land reform programme. No tangible steps have been taken to rectify the flaws.
“Set procedures were at times not followed in the implementation of the fast-track resulting in confusion among operatives at the local level as to the direction of policy,” the report said.
The report cited an example of a junior official who ordered provincial officers to list “all plantations, conservancies and other properties for gazetting”.
The cabinet committee on resettlement had apparently not sanctioned the order.
The report said properties which were not supposed to be gazetted for compulsory acquisition were listed and then delisted, which was costly to the fiscus.
“Many of these (properties) would, not infrequently, then be delisted via the same Government Gazette and the same newspapers in which they had been listed in the first place.
“Perhaps more egre-giously, properties own-ed by government itself were sometimes listed for acquisition and later upon review delisted – all this perhaps due to the fact that the local land identification committees did not realise that properties concerned belonged to the state,” the report said.
The report said persons lacking official status or authority allocated land to districts adjacent to the major urban areas.
“Some persons inter-viewed by the committee’s provincial teams also reported that certain prominent persons of various status locally or nationally were guilty of political interference that allegedly resulted in land allocations and related activities that favoured some groups or individuals as against others,” the report said.
It said the irregularities were as a result of “an unwieldy programme implementation machinery”.
“The welter of ministries, departments, parastatals, committees, subcommittees, informal groups, taskforces and related organs that somehow had a role to play in the programme execution not only made for a dispersed authority and decision-making arrangement,” the report said, “it also opened the way for some individuals to exert influence on the process of programme execution beyond what might have been possible under a more close-knit and centralised structure.”
The report also noted that farms which were covered by the bilateral agreements had been acquired for resettlement.
It said government issued certificates of no present interest to farmers but the properties were still gazetted for compulsory acquisition.
The review committee has recommended the setting up of a National Land Board to administer all land affairs and remove the fragmented approach.