Agriculture Business Development Food Legal and Parliamentary Affiars Politics

Chihana offside on Zimbabwe’s land reform: Tatenda Mavetera

Hon Tatenda Mavetera

Malawi’s Mzimba North West parliamentarian Hon Enoch Chihana, who is a member of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) is again off-tangent regarding Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, Hon Dr. Tatenda Mavetera has said.

This emerged today in Midrand, South Africa, the seat of the PAP, during a debate on the Model Law on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN).

Chihana had stood up to contribute to the debate wherein he said Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme was a disgrace because it had precipitated economic hardships in the Southern African Nation.

“Hon Vice President, with your indulgence, may Hon Chihana withdraw his statement that the Land Reform Programme in Zimbabwe was a disgrace. I draw to your attention the fact that if there is anything best that Zimbabwe did for the citizenry, it was the land reform programme.

“It empowered the people of Zimbabwe. Let me categorically make it clear that Hon Chihana is not a citizen of Zimbabwe and has no moral ground to criticise such a noble programme that has not only empowered citizens economically but politically as well. Each and every country in this August House of the Pan-African Parliament would like to emulate Zimbabwe. They may be failing to implement such a revolutionary programme but it is their desire. In that regard, Hon Chihana should not take pride in only attacking everything that Zimbabwe does. He should immediately withdraw the statement,” Hon Mavetera said.

The PAP Vice President ruled that the Hon Member should withdraw his statement, which he felt was a direct attack on Zimbabwe. Hon Chihana obliged.

As it stands, one of the biggest omissions of the Post-Independent Zimbabwean Parliaments has been the failure to revisit the colonial construct of the Communal Lands Act. It is unfortunate that 42 years after independence, there remains legislation which perpetuates the illegitimate deprivation of real rights to native Zimbabweans who over a century ago were pushed into the ‘communal’ reserve areas to pave way for the creation of commercial farms exclusively for the white colonialists.

During colonialism, white farmers were favoured with title deeds same as the urban property owners. During the land reform exercise, resettled farmers were given offer letters, permits and leases yet those in the communal areas are without any title, lease or permit.

The Communal Lands Act makes it clear that occupants of the land do not have any real rights other than the limited rights of use and occupation of land which for the time being is not earmarked for use by the local authorities.

The use and occupation of any piece of land without any piece of paper granting rights is always risky and any investment on such land renders the same dead capital.

Historically, a small minority of white large-scale farmers owned a disproportionately large share of the better agricultural land, while the majority of the national population farmed in the lower rainfall and poorer soil areas as contained in the colonial regime’s Land Apportionment Act of 1930 that made it illegal for Africans to purchase land outside of established Native Purchase Areas of Southern Rhodesia.

Realising that provisions of the Lancaster House Agreement that stated that land should change hands through a willing seller-willing buyer mechanism were delaying, the Zimbabwean government led by the late former President of the Republic, Robert Mugabe, embarked on a land reform programme that saw the distribution of land to the black majority.

The West, angered by what it felt was a haphazard process characterized by violent land grabs, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. Twenty years later, the effects of the sanctions on the Southern African nation are being felt by a majority of the citizens although the Western nations prefer to call them ‘targeted’.

Neighbouring countries like Malawi and Zambia which used to import food from Zimbabwe are also feeling the negative impacts since exports have stopped and agricultural production has plummeted.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende