Land audit welcome

HARARE - It is very refreshing to finally hear some down to earth facts about land redistribution in Zimbabwe and Lands and Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora is to be congratulated in this regard.

For fourteen years we have been bombarded with propaganda, jingles and rhetoric  about the supposed success of land redistribution but we still haven’t seen the results on our tables or in our supermarkets. Despite a decade and a half of tired boasts, Zimbabwe has as good as become a province of South Africa: we use their money, eat their food, watch their TV stations and have franchises of their shops all over our country.

It’s about time Zimbabwe got to the bottom of the problem as to why we still can’t even feed ourselves and Lands minister, Mombeshora appears to be taking the first tentative steps to get answers.

When the Lands minister made the shocking revelations a couple of weeks ago; that children as young as 10 had been allocated land, sadly Zimbabweans were not surprised. 

Everyone knows that the whole process of land reform has been littered with inaccuracies, inequalities, forgeries, bribes and corruption.

Take a drive on any highway in any direction and the facts are there in plain sight — run down derelict farms, empty fields, looted infrastructure.

What was surprising about 10-year-old children being farm beneficiaries, was just how easy it was for the Lands ministry to uncover the truth.

The minister said they simply took ID numbers  to the Registrar General’s Office to confirm basic information such as names and dates of birth. Then it was simply a case of cross checking this information with the land beneficiaries’ data base.

If it was that easy to uncover fraud, why has it taken fourteen years to do so?

The immediate assumption that if a 10-year-old child was allocated land in 2000 then there wouldn’t be a problem because that child would now be twenty four-years-old were hastily squashed.

According to The Herald, Mombeshora said land that had been fraudulently acquired would be repossessed.

Those are the words that have the ability to turn Zimbabwe around — land that was fraudulently acquired will be repossessed.

Just as 10-year-old children acquired land fraudulently when their parents lied on official forms about their dates of birth, how many other lies could the Lands ministry uncover by simply investigating and cross checking their own data base?    

Mombeshora’s confirmation that a full land audit is to be undertaken next year comes as a long overdue but very welcome development.

The staggeringly high $35 million tag attached to the audit must demand a process that is transparent and open for scrutiny at every level.

The question of impartiality of the audit is critical not only for the credibility of the process and findings, but for future stability and productivity in agriculture.   

Quoted in the press last week Mombeshora described the land audit as being like a census and he is obviously aware of possible fraud.

“We cannot use the very same people who are in the system right now because if we go to a district and say we want you to give us information, these are the very people who have provided wrong information….We cannot trust them with a stern duty to carry out the audit.

“Therefore, we hope that we recruit people who do not have interest in a particular area.”

With respect to the Lands minister, selecting individuals to carry out this critical national task needs much more than hope.

Comments (2)

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water,, - 25 June 2014

Commendable venture. A land audit without the lands staff? I hope someone would not fall flat on their faces.

Manu - 26 June 2014

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