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Land audit can be done better

MOST citizens would agree that sound, profitable agriculture is the key to economic recovery in Zimbabwe and it is noted in the press that the unity government has at last made plans to take action in response to the GPA requirement for a farm audit. Press statements suggest that the planned audit is expected to take two years to complete and will cost US$31 million.

This will mean two more years of poor land use and the loss of millions of dollars worth of production. Surely the time scale can be shortened.
Agritex officers, who have local knowledge of their districts, if provided with a carefully drawn up questionnaire to fill, could provide an accurate audit in a matter of months at a fraction of the cost suggested.
The officers could be allowed extra mileage for their vehicles and overtime payment for extra  hours worked. Their input would be far superior to that of travelling circus of experts with no local knowledge. The questionnaire could seek information which is not on the farm register.
The audit panel could spend most of their time in their offices to collate the incoming information. This would eliminate the cost of a large fleet of expensive vehicles and two years of expense allowances for the audit team.
The audit of course can only supply information about the existing chaotic and loss-making state of agriculture whereas the real need is a comprehensive plan for correct land use.
Unless and until the land use in Zimbabwe is returned to a legal and commercial basis, agriculture will continue to deteriorate. Included in the outstanding issues is the matter of white farmers who wish to continue their calling after a return to legality. Secure land tenure, with land back into the market place, is of paramount importance if profitable agricultural production is the ultimate aim of the audit. The audit will be an expensive waste of money if there is political meddling.


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