Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Land reform gets another thumbs-up, but . . .
Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:00
Harmony Agere In-Depth Reporter

The land reform programme got yet another thumbs-up from an unlikely source following the publication of a report that stated that the agrarian reforms have transformed the lives of Zimbabwe’s rural populace.

The report, which was published at the end of last year by the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Sussex, indicates that the Zimbabwean economy is on the recovery that has been aided by the growth of rural businesses as a result of the land reform programme.

However, there are reports that the gains recorded so far could be swept away as some newly resettled farmers are alleging that they are being forced to leave their farms to pave way for other farmers, in cases that stink of corruption.

The study by Ian Scoones, a professor at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, further suggests that the programme has significantly improved the agricultural sector.

According to Scoones, production initially collapsed in the early stages of the programme due to the challenges associated with the general state of the economy.

He, however, stated that the agricultural sector has been stable since 2009.

The report attributed the stabilisation to the increase in tobacco and cotton production.

The report states that “of around 7 million hectares of land redistributed via the land reform programme, 49,9 percent of the people who benefited were rural peasants, 18.3% were unemployed or in low-paid jobs in regional towns, growth points and mines, 16,5 percent were civil servants, and 6,7 percent were of the Zimbabwean working class.”

Contrary to the claims by critics of the land reform programme who are alleging that only Government bureaucrats were benefiting, the report indicates that only 4,8 percent of the land went to business people, and 3,7 percent went to security services.

Since the introduction of the land reform programme, farming activities have been on the increase in Zimbabwe with tobacco production leading the way.

A total of 153 million kilogrammes of tobacco were auctioned in the past season.

The successful land reform programme has managed to address a number of colonial injustices. To date, over 150 000 A1 and over 20 000 A2 farmers have benefited from the land redistribution exercise.

The Government in June 1998 published the policy framework on the land reform and resettlement programme Phase II.

The programme envisaged the compulsory purchase over five years of 50 000 square kilometres from the 112 000 square kilometres owned by white commercial farmers, public corporations, churches, non-governmental organisations and multi-national companies.

Broken down, the 50 000 square kilometres meant that every year between 1998 and 2003, the Government intended to acquire 10 000 square kilometres for redistribution.

By the beginning of the new millennium, Government moved swiftly to address the colonial ill by introducing an Act which removed the willing-buyer-willing-seller policy and replaced it with an Act which provided for compulsory acquisition of land by the Government for redistribution.

As a result of the Act, thousands of disenfranchised blacks who had been driven out of the fertile lands into “reserves” were allocated arable land.

However, despite recording many positives, the programme has been tainted by some greedy and corrupt elements who are slowing down the gains of the land reform programme.

There have been reports of corrupt land officials who are receiving bribes to corruptly allocate land in areas that have already been allocated to other farmers, causing strife and disunity in the process.

The illegal land allocations are alleged to have worsened after the 2013 harmonised elections.

Mrs Maurine Chindunda of Riversdale Farm in Chegutu said corruption is rife in her area.

“I am afraid that I might lose my farm anytime.
“I was allocated this farm 10 years ago, but last week, I was approached by some land officials who told me that I was supposed to move out and pave way for another farmer. I am, however, resisting that directive,” Mrs Chindunda said.

Another affected farmer, Jericho Mubai of Hurungwe, said he was forced to co-exist with another farmer.

In an interview, the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Cde Douglas Mombeshora, said his office had received numerous complaints about illegal land allocations and was looking into the matter. He said district administrators are not mandated to allocate land and warned those that are doing so that they will face the full wrath of the law.

“We have received reports about illegal land allocations and, as a ministry, we are going to put an end to that practice,” Minister Mombeshora said.

Senior Government officials have also castigated corrupt land dealings, saying such acts reverse the gains of the land reform programme.

Speaking at the recently held Zanu-PF Harare Provincial conference, Cde Amos Midzi, the chairman of the province, warned party members to desist from illegal land allocations.

“I would like to warn those that are illegally evicting and allocating land to stop doing so. As Government, we have proper structures that were established for those specific purposes,” he said.


(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Tobacco farmers urged to diversify
Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00
Sunday Mail Reporter

The Hurungwe District Administrator (DA) has urged tobacco farmers in the area to venture into grain farming as well. In an interview on Thursday, Ms Tsana Chirau hailed some tobacco companies for urging farmers to consider farming maize alongside tobacco. She noted that the practice would improve the state of food security in the district.

“It is high time for those farmers who produce tobacco alone to diversify into food crops so that we maintain a safe level of food security in the district.

“It is worrying that when most tobacco farmers sell their tobacco, they focus on purchasing sofas, generators, bicycles and wardrobes. They forget to buy grain for their families’ consumption. They only realise that after their funds would have been exhausted,” she said.

Ms Chirau also called on other tobacco companies to promote the farming of food crops alongside the golden leaf.

This year’s tobacco selling season starts in three weeks’ time.


(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) ‘No EU Summit without Zim’
Sunday, 02 February 2014 00:00
Morris Mkwate

The African Union (AU) has resolved to cancel the European Union-AU Summit scheduled for Brussels, Belgium, in April this year if President Mugabe is not invited, thereby setting the stage for the EU to climb down on its punitive stance on Zimbabwe.

Leaders who attended the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly, which ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday, also agreed that the continent should take control of its natural resources and not allow foreigners to dictate their exploitation.

The leaders also resolved to realign the education systems of African countries with policies that promote entrepreneurial skills and job-creation.

Addressing journalists soon after arriving back home from the AU Summit yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the African Heads of State and Government elected not to attend the EU-AU interface if the Europeans do not invite Cde Mugabe.

He said it was “absolute madness” for the bloc to exclude the President, especially after his election as AU First Deputy Chairperson. He added that the AU Commission has been tasked with ensuring that every leader is invited to Brussels.

“We were never in any doubt that they were going to climb down and capitulate. We do not even know why they decided to try this in the first place because they tried it before and they were forced to capitulate.

“And it seems they have very short memories: they tried it again this time. Of course, Africa took a very firm position to say if President Mugabe is not invited to this Summit, then there will be no Summit because no African Head of State was going to attend a Summit where President Mugabe is being excluded.

“That is the decision that was taken at the African Union that all Heads of State and Government must be invited without exception if the Summit is going to take place. And so, faced with this situation, I do not think the European Union has any option. One never ceases to marvel why the European Union always wants to come up with self-imposed humiliation.”

The EU-AU Summit is expected to be held from April 2 to 3. It will mainly focus on strategic priorities between the two continents and review the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES).

The strategy seeks to deepen relations through a “strengthened political partnership and enhanced co-operation at all levels”. It is also tailored to promote sustained development and implemented through successive short-term action plans.

One of its overarching objectives is “reinforcing and elevating the Africa-EU political partnership to address issues of common concern”.
The EU did not invite Zimbabwe to the Summit, ostensibly as an expression of its long-standing impasse with the country.

The bloc imposed targeted and economic sanctions on the Southern African nation at the instigation of former colonial power Britain, which was vehemently against the land reform programme. It is this month expected to review the punitive measures.

Cde Mumbengegwi said the firm position taken by the African leaders was likely to force the EU to rescind its decision on Zimbabwe as the grouping was keen to hold the Summit. He said: “They did not have to take this position and now they are humiliated. And so, as it is, I do not know if the invitation has arrived yet, but we know that it will have to come because they want the Summit to go ahead and Africa will only go there if President Mugabe is invited to this Summit.

“After all, President Mugabe is now the First Deputy President of the African Union. How can you hold a Summit between two organisations and then one organisation has the arrogance to say to the other organisation, ‘Yes, let’s meet as two organisations, but we don’t want your Deputy President to be present.’ I mean this is madness! This is just madness!

“The AU Commission has been tasked to follow up on this decision of the African Union that each and every Head of State must be invited. They have been mandated to follow up this issue and ensure that it is done because, if it is not done, then there is no Summit.”

Regarding the AU’s Agenda 2063, a vision expected to guide the continent over the next 50 years, the minister said the summit resolved that Africa must take control of its natural resources following glaring evidence of poverty in the midst of wealth.

He said member states would harmonise approaches to ensure they do not lose out to foreign investment. On education, he revealed that during plenary sessions, President Mugabe spoke of the need to reconsider the present job-market-oriented system and move to one that promotes entrepreneurial skills and job-creation. Agenda 2063 seeks resource control, education realignment, greater participation of the African state and a shift from donor-dependency, among other elements.

Foreign ministers, who attended a retreat ahead of the Summit, unanimously agreed that a “strong, bold leadership” was required to steer the continent to prosperity.

“As you are aware, Agenda 2063 has become extremely important on the agenda of the AU because it is an effort to come up with programmes of action over the next 50 years. It is work in progress. The AU wants to formulate that action programme. It was underlined that Africa is rich in resources and yet Africans are poor. Therefore, Africans must control these resources, then we can become masters of our own destiny.

“Another point endorsed by Summit was that of the education content in Africa. It was underlined by the President during discussions that it was good our children attend school, but the concern was about the content.”

The 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly — held under the theme “2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security” — closed with the leaders also making major decisions on agriculture, peace and security as well as relations between Africa and the International Criminal Court (ICC). On agriculture and food security, member states are expected to implement key activities that will be discussed after six months. Summit also reinforced its position that no sitting African Head of State and Government should be brought before the ICC.

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