Time for land audit

HARARE - Heart-wrenching reports about the state of dereliction on the former prime estate at Kondozi  apparently indicate the slapdash method adopted in rolling out the national agrarian reform programme.

From the onset the noble agrarian revolution looked vulnerable to abuse by high-ranking officials and those with connections in high places but lacked the competency to utilise a natural resource and asset productively as reflected in the Kondozi fiasco.

Valuable as land is, there should not be a let-up on beneficiaries who hold onto this national asset for prestige’s sake while thousands of families struggle to eke out a living from spent and barren soils in communal lands.

And given the sorry state of dereliction that has been inflicted on a former thriving estate taken over by Manicaland governor, Christopher Mushowe it is high time Zimbabwe re-visited the land redistribution programme.

There is nothing so embarrassing for the nation than the fact that beneficiaries of the agrarian reform programme, who inherited such an array of farming equipment as was on site on the estate, would allow land to become so redundant an asset as is happening at Kondozi.

It is instructive that better criteria ought to be put in place to select replacement beneficiaries.

Applicants should justify their quest for land, other than divvying it out like confetti.

The nation cannot afford to repeat the mistake of thinking every Zimbabwean is a competent farmer.

It is high time also that a land audit is launched and all those that are work-shy and lack the will to make land productive be removed as often threatened by President Robert Mugabe.

The country’s noble programme cannot be held hostage by indolent land beneficiaries who pose a greater risk to the country’s food security than fickle weather patterns.

Consequently, large sums of money have to be deployed to import food that could easily be produced locally.

Apart from failed farmers, Mugabe should wield the axe on those officials who resorted to sub-letting land given to them to mask their incompetency.

He has often promised to take action and there is no better time than this to walk the talk.

One of the lessons to be learnt from the catastrophe at Kondozi when compared to farmers in the adjacent communal lands is that it is not the vastness of land that counts but the competency, willingness to work hard  and experience of using available land.

The agrarian reform programme has no place for Zimbabweans with the misconception that owning tracts of land would instantly turn them into wealthy farmers. - Staff Writer

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