FORMER South African President Thabo Mbeki has urged the inclusive government to carry out a land audit as he defended the region’s decision to give a blind eye to the chaos that accompanied the agrarian reforms.
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
Mbeki, who brokered the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the inclusive government in 2009, told delegates to the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference in Victoria Falls on Monday that the country was forced to delay the land reforms to avoid scaring whites in South Africa during negotiations to end apartheid. He said the region was convinced at the time that Zimbabwe must “indeed confront the matter of the land question, but address it through a process of reform rather than through revolutionary means”.
However, Mbeki – who was part of a Sadc delegation that was dispatched to meet President Robert Mugabe in Victoria Falls in 2000 when the violence broke out on white commercial farms – said despite the scepticism, Zimbabwe had successfully transferred land to the majority blacks.
He said the parties in the inclusive government must honour their commitment to the GPA and investigate claims that Mugabe’s cronies helped themselves to most of the productive land.
He said the government must also upgrade the rural infrastructure, intensify agricultural extension services and provide the necessary credit to enable the new farmers to access inputs if the reforms were to transform the economy.
“Of course, this must also include addressing the corrupt practice which occurred during the necessarily enormous upheaval of the agrarian revolution, which led the government of Zimbabwe to take the important decision to conduct a land audit to ensure that those who had corruptly acquired land are not allowed to benefit from such a corrupt practice,” Mbeki said.
“In this regard, the September 2008 GPA elaborated and adopted by the Zimbabwe political parties, states that the parties agreed.”
Zanu PF has been accused by its coalition partners of delaying the land audit fearing that its corrupt leaders will be exposed by the probe. Mbeki also called on the three parties in the inclusive government to implement GPA reforms that will guarantee free and fair elections.