The land issue has been topical in Zimbabwe since the liberation struggle.
War veterans say they were motivated to join the country’s 1970s guerilla war by the inequitable distribution of land resources where the majority black masses were shunted into unproductive land.
MDC-T last week called for the setting-up of a Parliament-supervised land audit after reports indicated farmers resettled during the fast-track land reform programme were failing to manage their farms and preferred to sub-let them to white former farmers.
MPs across the political divide expressed mixed feelings on whether Parliament should set up a non-partisan land audit or not.
Zanu PF MPs said the land reform was done in a fair manner, while the MDC MPs believe it is imperative to institute an audit to ensure massive land use for the benefit of Zimbabweans.
The following are excerpts of interviews conducted by NewsDay reporter Veneranda Langa with MPs:
Fani Munengami – MDC-T Glen View North MP:
It is important to have a non-partisan land audit because it helps us see who owns what, and how many farmers we have. Our motto as MPs is “one man, one farm” and we do not want multiple farm ownership.
Those people who were given farms in the chaotic land reform programme were not given those farms to live in, but they were specifically for farming purposes so that we have enough food in the country.
Now that we are facing hunger, it is evident those that benefited from the land reform programme were not real farmers and were motivated by greed, hence they are leasing out those farms.
When allocating farms, it is important not to look at racial issues because every Zimbabwean has a right to own land. Farms should be given to individuals who are capable of farming irrespective of their colour.
There are people who turned down land offers because they did not want to benefit from the chaotic land reforms and preferred orderly allocations and if a non-partisan land audit is done, it would enable well-managed allocations so that those people also benefit.
There is no reason why we should face hunger when we underwent land reforms and it is high time we weeded out those farmers not putting the land to good use.
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti – Zanu PF Mwenezi East MP:
We have always carried out land audits in this country to verify the land status and to find out who benefits.
We had to decide on priorities as a country and people felt that constitutional reforms were more important than the land audit.
So, we had to do the constitution-making process first before the land audit.
There is no problem with a land audit because it would help us to find out how many people were allocated land and those who are not putting the land to good use.
However, I must say land reforms were non-partisan, some people thought the process was going to be reversed at some point, but now it is clear that it is not going to be reversed.
These are the people who did not want to participate in the land reforms when land was being allocated but now they realise it is the right way to go.
We cannot withdraw land from those who benefited in order to give those who did not want to benefit then.
Those that did not come forward to get land are now beginning to realise that they made wrong decisions.
Editor Matamisa – MDC-T Kadoma Central MP:
Of course I support a non-partisan land audit because some of these wayward farmers got more land than they needed and that is why they cannot fully utilise it.
There are MDC supporters who did not get land, and remember the three principals said there was no going back on the land issue, but there are people who did not get any land.
If this audit is not done it would be an issue of concern because we need it to take place urgently, like yesterday.
We have read in state media that some of those who benefited from the land reform are now sub-letting the farms, and it is unfortunate because we cannot make our money that way.
As women, most of us were left out and yet some of us grew up farming in the rural areas.
We want that land shared equally; especially to include those who want to do serious farming.
We do not want a situation where people own land in the whole of Zimbabwe which they cannot manage.
We should all benefit because we are all Zimbabweans.