MDC-T has called for a non-partisan land audit during the tenure of the Seventh Parliament and said it was of paramount importance to national survival following latest reports suggesting misuse of large swathes of prime land seized from white commercial farmers during the fast-track land reform programme.
MDC-T issued a statement on Thursday describing government’s chaotic land reform programme sponsored by Zanu PF as “madness that annihilated commercial agriculture and plunged the nation into famine and food insecurity”.
“The story of Hurungwe in particular, and several hubs of commercial agriculture in general, provides ample proof that (President Robert) Mugabe and Zanu PF merely wanted to loot the farms and strip them of all their valuable assets while enjoying their last supper in power,” read the statement.
“It beggars belief that after what Zimbabweans went through, supposedly in the name of correcting historical imbalances, the same Zanu PF officials are now sitting back advertising the farms and pleading for rent-paying tenants.”
But Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa disputed that the land reform programme was partisan.
Instead, Murerwa said a land commission had already been set up to conduct a land audit as required by the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
Said Murerwa: “We are following the GPA and its provisions are quite clear. The land reform programme was never partisan and government will pursue a non-partisan position. Land is distributed along non-partisan lines.”
The MDC-T statement said even the state media had for the first time acknowledged the failure of Zanu PF’s model used to acquire the land.
“The state media for the first time acknowledged the undisputed failure of Zanu PF’s faulty and primitive accumulation economic model inspired by a fiefdom script which had turned serious farmers into land tenants of Zanu PF’s elite,” MDC-T said.
Recent state media reports said more than 30 beneficiaries of government’s land reform programme and an old resettlement scheme in Hurungwe District were leasing land to white former commercial farmers for as little as 10% of gross annual produce.
They quoted Taurai Chirau, the Hurungwe District Administrator as saying, “There are people leasing land to white former commercial farmers big time. I am only two months old in this district and when I came here the land deals had already been struck.”
MDC-T castigated Zanu PF and said the chaos at the farms bore testimony to Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe’s insincerity about land reform.
“They knew, right from the beginning, that none of the senior officials who now control a whopping five million hectares of choice plots of this finite resource were ever interested in commercial agriculture,” the statement reads.
They said a land audit was imperative as enunciated in Article V of the GPA.
“Article V of the GPA is very specific. It requires Zimbabwe to undertake a land audit to clean up Zanu PF’s fetid waste, spluttered on our national heritage and primary resources in the name of land reform; and to stop the disastrous actions of the new landlords and ladies,” the statement read.
What was more disheartening, MDC-T said, was the plight of farm workers. A comprehensive land audit was therefore necessary before the retirement of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe.