The land reform process was borne out of legitimate historical injustices, but the chaotic manner of its enactment has no place in the quest to re-establish Zimbabwe’s vaunted place as a breadbasket of Africa.
Agricultural paedophiles and land speculation perverts need to be separated from the real women and men committed to full-time engagement in farming.
Land is indeed an extension of our very souls, a measure of our social and cultural fabric, and a denominator of our political and economic values.
It’s far too valuable and precious to be used as a political Valentine gift to the inept and clueless denizens scarring our great landscape and feeding on the contemptible falsehood of calling themselves “farmers”!
True land reform involves the legal transfer of land from the powerful to the less powerful. If it ends up creating more pockets of inequity and land hoarding by new elite then for all purposes it becomes land replacement . . . the virtual transfer of ownership from old powerful minorities to new corrupt powerful minorities.
My administration will seek to support true single-farm holders, and swiftly move to infuse and unlock new capital, certainty, experience and talent from incorporating the old farmers who are still interested in farming.
This would be done by reducing farm sizes in many instances, taking away farms from unproductive farmers, introducing a tax regime that encourages production and penalises multi-farm ownership and land hoarding.
Production will spike when many choose between dodgy civil service work commitment and full-time farming. Those who can’t choose will have the choice made for them through swift repossession.
There is enough land to accommodate serious, committed, well-capitalised and experienced new and old farmers in Zimbabwe.
My administration will quickly move to harness committed old farmers of talent and experience and expeditiously move to offer just compensation for all their improvements through new commitments from the international community that equally wishes to turn a new leaf in its engagement with a Zimbabwe that protects private property rights.
A new approach to farming and land ownership is needed in Zimbabwe and what’s currently lacking is leadership to think through this differently.
There is need to create a new category of farm ownership beyond subsistence and commercial.
This would be new specialised, designated and specialised intensive industrial farming land.
This would be a cadre of crack farmers drawn from the available pool of our experienced white and black farmers that would operate extensive magnet or model farms in all the major farming regions of the country.
They will execute on the mandate that Arda failed to live up to, through operation of national strategic and niche farming areas supported by generous tax incentives.
There should be an urgent stop to the agricultural nanny-state where mere land ownership is readily abused as a looting platform through access to cheap loans and agro-inputs.
We need to move away from land-banditry to a new land-husbandry system that creates clear and tradable security of tenure.
Farming is a capital-intensive undertaking and capital loves the comfort of security.
Without security of tenure we can forget national food security and the eradication of rural poverty.
Land is a great denominator of wealth, and thus we need to bring dead rural assets into the economic mainstream by crafting new tradable security instruments for communal land.
This will help break the cycle of poverty by valuing real assets in the hands of our common people.
There is no economic value to the perpetuation of the cultural sentimental value of rural land as poor subsistence farming lots and favoured traditional burial grounds.
After all, the existing system perpetuates false totem-specific division between our common people!
My administration will usher in a new era of great harvests as many cellphone farmers will certainly opt out of the new lean, mean and keen non-partisan civil service of all talents.
Many are part-time farmers because they wish to utilise their various government positions to assure themselves slices and crumbs from different agro-support schemes.
Many of the failed farmers are also failed politicians; they keep to their politics to guarantee them continued tenuous access to land.
These failed farmers would also be offered a way out through open selling of their land on the land market, thereby unlocking value to themselves and the nation.
It will also be in kind and just consideration to their many years of lost savings working in the civil service. With these pockets of inefficiency and failure plugged away, local farming will be back in a big way.
In Zimbabwe, immoral, amoral and mediocre people have had sense enough to organise themselves into powerful cartels and clubs of plunder.
The problem is that true people of excellence, people of faith, are quick to just organise themselves into prayer circles and pray for things to change day in and day out, pining for divine happenstance.
In 2012, I foresee an action orientation to usher in the manifestation of restorative justice for a people long abused.
“We are the change we seek”, and one of the first ports of call for change in my administration would certainly be land and agricultural reform policing and implementation.
Dr Raymond Chamba
Presidential Candidate (Independent)