'We'll fix Mugabe's land reform disaster'

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says as poorly-executed as the country’s fast- track land reforms of 2000 were, he will not reverse them if he wins the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Speaking to the Daily News in an exclusive interview yesterday, the former prime minister in the Government of National Unity said what he would do would be to work hard to promote agricultural production so that the country’s new farmers could become successful employers, in addition to feeding the nation and exporting their produce.

Tsvangirai was emphatic that the land reforms that President Robert Mugabe had presided over had so far only brought misery to Zimbabweans — a disaster that his envisaged grand plan would mitigate, leading to higher production.

“The criticism we have is that government has not trained people to fully utilise the farms. It has also not equipped them adequately. I want to emphasise to Zimbabweans and anyone who believes that the MDC is going to reverse the land reform programme that this is mere Zanu PF propaganda which has no basis whatsoever,” he said.

The veteran politician, who defeated Mugabe hands down in the 2008 elections, said long before Zanu PF expediently started to harp on about the need for land reforms, he and other colleagues in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) had been pushing for such a programme, with no buy-in from the ruling party at the time.

“We were the first to say land to the people, not the politicians because we were opposed to the status quo.

“At the time, Zanu PF had gone for years without dealing with this and when they finally dealt with it, all Zimbabweans agree that the manner in which this was conducted was problematic.

“It was both partisan and violent and did not ensure production. There was seemingly no appreciation that agriculture is the backbone of the economy and that if you destroy it you are therefore destroying the country,” Tsvangirai said.

At its peak, agriculture used to contribute 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but is now contributing less than five percent — with Mugabe and Zanu PF widely blamed for the destruction of the sector and the country’s economy as a whole to perpetuate their misrule.

While the country also used to be the bread-basket of southern Africa before the chaotic land reforms, it is now a much-derided basket case that imports grain from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa.

And amid claims that many Zanu PF bigwigs are multiple farm owners, Tsvangirai said he would initiate “a fresh and comprehensive” audit of land ownership in the country if he won the 2018 polls.

“Our policy is one man one farm, and there is no doubt that the audit will reveal multiple land ownership by the chefs. If they (Zanu PF) were sincere, they should have revealed those with multiple farms.

“I do not know how true the claim is that Mugabe has seven farms, but if you combine his farms and that of his wife how many are that? That is the criticism we have for the system. A family should have one farm and we should have equitable land redistribution,” he said.

Tsvangirai, who has no farm, also dismissed as “alarmist falsehoods” claims by Zanu PF that disposed white commercial farmers had allegedly hovered around their former farms in 2008 when they saw that the MDC leader had defeated Mugabe in that year’s elections.

“It was never and still isn’t our policy to reverse the land reform programme. Whites know that they need to share ... But I also want to assure all Zimbabweans that there is a place for everyone, even white farmers.

“We truly believe that land reform can be a powerful empowerment tool which should give people the opportunity to own land and have a market for their produce. This is why and how we are going to increase productivity on farms,” he said.

“What I saw when I was coming from my rural home at the weekend saddened me deeply.. During this time of the year, areas around Beatrice used to be green with healthy crops, but now the farms look like abandoned war zones.

“It’s sad beyond words that the beneficiaries of the land reform programme are now rushing for handouts from NGOs (non-governmental organisations), and yet they are supposed to produce the food we all need.

“This is what we want to correct and the plan is already there. This is simple work. In my rural home, I do drip irrigation and if we promote drip agriculture around the country, including for the peasant farmers, how much maize tonnage, for example, will we have at the end of the year?

“The Zanu PF government has failed dismally and we will lift agriculture back to its former glory because it is the backbone of the economy,” Tsvangirai said.

Comments (8)

Thats a good starting point Save. You need to come up with ways you are going to fix Mugabe's mess and tell the nation regularly. This will build the nation's trust in you. Come 2018, you will be the President.

change is coming - 7 December 2016

I HAVE HEARD U TALKING FOR THE FIRST TIME TSVANGSON THIS IS WAT WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR TELL THE NATION WAT U WOULD LIKE TO DO FOR THEM DONT WASTE TIME UCHIPOPOTERANA NEVANHU UDZA VANHU ZVAUCHAVAITIRA AND THEY WILL VOTE U INTO POWER APA WATAURA AGRIC CHETE ALSO TALK OF HOW U ARE GOING TO ADDRES PROBLEM OF CIVIL SERVANTS ECONOMI CRISIS POVERTY IN RURAL AREAS HEALTH SECTOR ETC TAURA PAMA RALLY AND ON T SHIRTS BUT MAINLY FLEIRS WOKANDIRA VANHU KUITIRA VASINGAUYE KUMA RALLY EVEN VE ZANU VACHO EVEN UKARAMBIDZWA MA RALLY PPLE WILL STILL KNOW YOUR PLANS PROMISAWO MABASA SE ZANU IWE CHIZOZADZISA NEKUTI URI MUTUMWA

masvingo - 7 December 2016

apa marasika save. blacks cannot do commercial farming. these guys got inputs for 15 years for mahala but have nothing to show for it. on this one you will take the horse to the river but never make it drink. needless to say that more than 30% of those farms have already been abandoned. mari yeku agri bak yaitorooreswa masmall house.

mukhove watshilidzi - 7 December 2016

Well said PM.All yu said is understandable.Im not going to disagree wth yu just for the sake of politics.Yu have a plan for agriculture ,and thats axactly what VP is advocating.Look at his COMMAND Agriculture..Its working very good ,along those lines yu have said.The only missing link in yo plan is FUNDING.You ha e left out how you are going to fund agriculture.VP is facing a struggle on funding as he has to beg treasury.Anyway the good thing is the2 of yu have the same plan ,good plans for Zim.How a out working together on this ,under GNU 2.Im prety sure both of yu can put pride aside and put country 1st.Is it crime to work together.I know president mugabe said he hates gnu,calling it an animal but Im sure yu dont think so also.All that money about to be wasted on election 2018, put it all into agriculture.Fund all small holder farms and stimulate bigger farms thru banks.GNU2 is a better plan sir and yu know it.

viola gwena - 8 December 2016

Tsvangison is now panel beating his party land policy, but Zimbabweans are more clever than him.

Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof) - 8 December 2016

Spot on President Tsvangirai. Funding will not be much of a problem coz what the business community wants is having confidence in the ruling gvt and be given assurance and they start funding,The mathematics is simple.Good economic policies and funds will come.Political stability and funding will come.

nyongolo - 9 December 2016

Mzvinavhu for your own benefit. Pride is what have destroyed our country.Stick to your outdated and non profitable policies and sink for good.Where you realise that you need to panel beat then do it and you progress.Nothing wrong in changing policies thats how we make wrong right.Anyway Tsvangson is just but lamenting what he has always been saying except that zanoids have always been dead eared and refused to listen.Zanu hijacked Tsvangson's calls and made land reform their own yet the call was there long before.

NYONGOLO - 9 December 2016

@Nyongolo.Funding is the biggest mising link on farming presently.Banks have no local funds to deal wth farming.Depending on donars may not be a great idea for a country like Zim.Donar dependency is partly what killed the economy.Gvt was used to getting donar funds fro Britain,EU and US on farming and day to day business.When that was cut off,gvt nosedived,broke.Donars influence the way yu choose leaders besides their help.I wuld prefer a way where gvt ,the elected gvt,looks at what resourses we have and get funding from open markets to fund agriculture.Smith used to do that wth very good results.He never begged anyone.He sold gold at a discount to fund farming and industrialisation.Why are our policies and thinking always on begging and donars.Now we have gas,diamonds,uranium,coal,gold,iron,platnum yu name it.More than Smith had.WHY Nyongolo.Yu may differ with me but plse enlighten me.

viola gwena - 9 December 2016

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