Land: Time to put house in order

HARARE - Fourteen years after the roll-out of an oft-violent land reclamation and redistribution programme, chaos still rears its monstrous head as a hallmark of the acquired farms with no respite in sight.

This is in itself either a serious summon on the part of government that blights a worthy cause or an indication of government’s unerring instinct for abandoning programmes mid-stream.

The emergence of confusion over land ownership reflects a deliberate reluctance by government to see its programmes through only to revisit them when it is expedient and convenient for populism’s sake.

Either government has washed its hands in restoring a modicum of order on the farmlands or it has sanctioned cyclic confusion and maladies to continue so that it can capitalise on that for political profit when it suits the occasion. Numerous national projects such as the agrarian reform have been left at half-mast.

Yet, leaving programmes half-done is bound to boomerang in government’s face and haunt future generations unless this knack for inventing crises is dealt with. Reports that a high-ranking staffer in the President’s office is embroiled in a land wrangle with neighbours he is seeking to evict clearly indicates how the powerful attempt to use their influence to mistreat hapless citizens.

In defiance of a court order, Zanu PF’s provincial chairperson in Mashonaland West is wielding his political muscle to take over Kingsdale Farm and allocate it to informal settlers on the populist platform of his readiness to be jailed for contempt of court on behalf of  squatters reportedly “as the supreme authority” in that area.

Evictions and displacements are disruptive when it is crucial to harness human effort and put agriculture back on track. Slapdash actions stick out as a counterpoint to claims that land is meant to benefit every citizen committed to using it for self-upliftment.

Other examples are the families now living on the roadside following their eviction almost a decade and half after they took up land on a farm in Mashonaland Central just as much as some rural families have been left homeless in the Midlands.

It took enormous courage for minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Masvingo to eject powerful politicians who had parcelled out lucrative wild life conservancies previously apportioned to villagers in rural Chiredzi district.

What beggars belief is that the vaunted agrarian reform is showing signs of fraying at the seams yet government still makes preachy speeches about the success of the agrarian reform when evidence on the grounds indicates organised confusion. It has escaped government’s grasp that land is a factor of production and unless land is fully utilised it becomes a redundant asset.

It is not too late for government to put its house in order.

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