Creating a wilderness out of once lush farmland

MANY years ago I was a passenger in a small plane flying over the northern part of rural Zimbabwe.

The passenger seated next to me remarked that the colonialists

must have been very intelligent people.

In reply to my “Why?” he asked me to look out the window and tell him what I saw. To the left of a fence was a barren, de-forested area of land and to the right was lush, green land.

What we were looking at was communal land to the left of the fence and a commercial farm to the right.

The colonialists, he said, are accused of allocating fertile land for commercial farmland and infertile land for communal land and they were so intelligent that they were able to separate fertile from infertile land and draw a perfectly straight line to separate one from the other.

We debated what we would be looking at if the colonialists had originally allocated the land to the left of the fence to be commercial farmland and the land to the right as communal land, instead of the other way around.

Or what would happen if we came back four or five years after the commercial farmers moved to the left of the fence and the communal farmers took over the lush area to the right of the fence.

We never contemplated what we would be looking at if the commercial farmers were removed from their farmland.

But in a recent flight over the same area I sadly witnessed the result of just that: the barren, de-forested land now extends to both sides of the “fence” (which no longer exists).

What was a productive farm is now just desolate bush.

How sad that, instead of creating an environment for turning the barrenness of the communal land into productive farmland, Zanu PF has done the exact opposite.

When will Zanu PF learn that “You don’t make the sick healthy by making the healthy sick; you don’t make the poor rich by making the rich poor”?

Why does Zanu PF reduce everything to the lowest common denominator, instead of helping to raise standards?

James Garnet,