Monday, April 29, 2013

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE, DAILY TIMES MW) Banda’s bid to copy Zim reforms slammed
Sharing experiences ... President Joice Banda with President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace
26/04/2013 00:00:00
by Daily Times Malawi

PRESIDENT Joyce Banda has come under fire from critics after announcement that Malawi would look to replicate Zimbabwe's controversial land reform and economic empowerment initiatives.

Banda was due back home Friday after a four-day state visit to Zimbabwe during which she backed Harare’s land reforms and the take-over of majority shareholdings in foreign-owned companies, describing them as the best way to uplift the livelihoods of the majority poor.

She was quoted as saying she would soon send experts to Zimbabwe to study the two programmes and recommend how they could be implemented in Malawi.

But land reform researcher and academic Blessings Chinsinga said Banda was making a grave mistake while Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) National Director Tamani Nkhono Mvula said replicating Zimbabwe's landform in Malawi would be akin to committing an economic suicide.

Chinsinga argued Malawi has procedures that clearly state how land reform programmes can be implemented.

"What has been lacking in all this is political will," said Chinsinga. "But forceful acquisition targeting those believed to be foreigners takes away the need to understand the root cause of the problem."

He said three quarters of land in Malawi is in the hands of the elites that include top civil servants, top businessmen, top politicians and traditional leaders and they are just keeping it idle.

He added that ways and means have to be found to redistribute this land properly and not taking after the means that adopted by Zimbabwe.

Nkhono-Mvula said the Zimbabwe approach could not be applied to Malawi.
"I am failing to understand the context we are going to acquire that land," he said.

He said most of the land in the country is in the hands of smallholder farmers and the only place where there are white owned farms is in Mulanje and Thyolo where there are tea estates.
"To take this process will be an economic suicide," he declared.

Nkhono-Mvula said the context of Zimbabwe land distribution had a long history and that it was out of frustrations because the British government did not commit to pledges it made on land reforms in that country.

"While the decision was somehow right, the process was not the right way to do it," he said before adding: "We did not have the Zimbabwe scenario where 90 percent of the good land was in the hands of 10 percent of the population."

Land reform saw the majority of Zimbabweans, who were previously settled on marginal infertile land, getting vast tracts of land that were occupied by about 4 000 commercial farmers.

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