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says land reform backfired on Mugabe regime
Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa
August 25, 2009
A key architect of Zimbabwe's
indigenisation laws, which paved the way for violent land invasions
in the name of 'reform', said on Monday that the land
redistribution system was 'erroneous'.
Paul Mangwana, a ZANU
PF legislator for Chivhi Central and former Minister for Indigenisation
and Empowerment, told an investment conference in Harare on Monday
that the land 'reform' programme had essentially backfired.
He explained that the campaign had been carried out in a 'revolutionary'
manner, which has left the country unable to restore its breadbasket
status because skilled farmers were replaced with unskilled land
of the indigenisation law has to be on a step-by-step basis rather
than be in a revolutionary manner," Mangwana said. "Land
reform was taken up in a revolutionary manner. Land was just taken.
don't want to walk that road again."
Mangwana had reportedly
been invited by the organisers of the conference to draw parallels
between the laws that ushered in land redistribution, with a new
law, which requires foreign owned companies to cede 51 percent of
their shares to locals. The former cabinet minister told delegates
that the new investment law was conceived out of a wish to transfer
the bulk of the country's prime sources of investment into
the hands of the indigenous black population.
But while Mangwana's
comments are said to be heartening, it will do little to reassure
commercial farmers who are facing ongoing harassment and threats
by land invaders. Deon Theron, the President of the Commercial Farmers
Union (CFU) on Tuesday said while Mangwana's sentiments are
'politically heartening', it does not change the reality
that farm invasions have not stopped.
"Things are incredibly
difficult for farmers right now and morale is very low," Theron
said. "What would really help right now is if someone did
something about it and did not just say encouraging words."
used to be renowned as net exporter of food, is now relying on aid
handouts to provide basic nourishment for nearly half of its population.
But despite being classed earlier this year as the world's
most food reliant nation, state sponsored land invasions have continued
on the handful of remaining productive farms across the country.
Meanwhile vast tracks of farmland countrywide also lie idle and
barren while corrupt government officials and military chiefs continue
to invade one piece of land after another.
Most recently, a South
African funded seed project has come under threat because of the
forced seizure of a seed-producing farm in Mashonaland East. Farmer
Dennis Lapham, whose farm produces more than 500 tons of maize seed
for the Pannar seed project, has faced intimidation and threats
since March by a ZANU PF supporter wielding an offer letter. The
man, who has already moved onto the farm and built a house, has
denied using violence or harassment to force Lapham to leave the
property. The managing director of the Pannar seed project meanwhile
has said that seed production is being affected by the chaos on
is merely one example of the ongoing disturbances affecting food
production on farms. More than 80 commercial farms have been taken
over since August last year, while more than 150 farmers are facing
prosecution for occupying so-called state owned land. At the same
time relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe are reportedly
strained over delays in concluding the signing of a bilateral investment
promotion agreement. Its has come to light that the signing of the
agreement was abandoned at the last minute in March, after Zimbabwe
government officials vehemently objected to a clause about land.
South Africa wants its citizens and entrepreneurs, who have invested
in land and other natural resources, to be covered under the agreement
to prevent disruption of their investments.
"The delays are
straining relations between the two countries. The South African
government is trying to help us, but we are refusing to help ourselves,"
said Finance Minister Tendai Biti, after holding trade discussions
this weekend with his South African counterpart Pravin Gordhan and
the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, on
"In our discussions,
it was evident that the delays are affecting our relations. But
it is us who are suffering as a country because we are losing out
on credit lines and other business and trade opportunities,"
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