By Ndafadza Madanha
THE Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) whose membership is predominantly made up of white farmers who lost land under the country’s fast track land reform exercise has acknowledged that the programme is irreversible.
Making submissions at the launch of the process to formulate a gender sensitive national land policy last week CFU President Andy Pascoe said his organization was now preoccupied with ensuring compensation for its members and secure tenure for the new farmers.
“The irreversibility of the land reform is not in doubt but a review is required to ensure that beneficiaries of the land reform are given security of tenure and the bundle of rights that come with it which include right to include or exclude people from the property, right of inheritance and right to put up the land as collateral. Compensation to our membership which was largely affected by the needs to be prompt and we acknowledge the increased budgetary allocations for the purpose,” said Pascoe.
According to minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri land distribution patterns in the country prior to independence made land reform inevitable.
“At independence, 15.5 million hectares of agricultural land was owned by 6 000 white commercial farmers who constituted less than 1% of the country’s population.
More than half of the 15.5 million hectares lay in the high rainfall agro-ecological regions where the potential for agricultural production is greatest. Sadly, the small-scale commercial farming sub-sector comprising 8 500 black farmers who owned 1,4 million hectares of agricultural land earned a living on this land located mostly in the drier agro-ecological regions where the soils are also poor.
A gloomier situation prevailed in the communal areas where communal farmers remained squashed in drier areas of ecological regions 5 and 6. The Land Reform was therefore unavoidable”.
He said that the land reform exercise had given rise to the need for a new comprehensive and Gender Sensitive Land Policy that enhances equal access to land, productivity and sustainable utilization of land but will also take into cognisance various global discourse and benchmarks.
“In light of the significant changes to the land ownership structure and production patterns ensuing principally from the Fast Track Land Reform, the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, technological advances, and international best practices amongst others, the Government of Zimbabwe is compelled to adopt a Comprehensive Gender Sensitive National Land Policy.
Demand for land has grown exponentially in the sectors of agriculture, urbanization, infrastructure development, and mining and energy production only to mention a few.
The policy should integrate land administration in a holistic manner with aspects that include land tenure, access to land, land use planning, land information management, land disputes resolution, environmental sustainability, management of wildlife, forestry, water among many others being taken into consideration”.