Authorities promise land audit

FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya have promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that government will conduct its long-awaited land audit as part of efforts to re-engage with the international community.

Bernard Mpofu

The government embarked on a chaotic and violent land reform programme from 2000 which resulted in white commercial farmers losing large swathes of land to black Zimbabweans.

The programme, which is still disrupting agriculture, remains an emotive issue amid concerns that President Robert Mugabe and his cronies grabbed many farms for self-aggrandisement despite government’s “one-man-one farm policy”.

According to a letter written to IMF managing director Christine Lagarde last month by Chinamasa and Mangudya, government would compensate farmers who lost land.

“We are moving ahead with land audits to expose any irregularities with the implementation of past land reform. We have submitted to Parliament a bill to establish the Land Commission in line with the Constitution,” reads a letter to Lagarde dated April 14.

“In collaboration with the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme, we started mapping and evaluating farms and devising modalities for compensation. The draft bankable 99-year lease is being finalised and is awaiting submission to cabinet. This will go a long way in providing security of tenure to the beneficiaries of the land reform programme and consequently boost agriculture by facilitating access to financing and investment.”

Last year, the Zimbabwe Independent reported that a proposed US$35 million government land audit had hit a brick wall amid disclosures that Zanu PF bigwigs and securocrats, who are multiple farm holders, were stifling efforts by Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora to carry out the exercise

The land audit is part of the commitments government undertook in its reengagements efforts. Zimbabwe’s relations with the West became frosty after the land grab exercise, while it became ineligible to secure long term financing from multilateral financial institutions.