HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsOf divorces, land ownership and stifled growth

Of divorces, land ownership and stifled growth

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Wow, what a dramatic week it was. A week which started with 16 Days of activism campaign against violence on women and children ended up with an alleged divorce case of the rich and famous.

Develop me with Tapiwa Gomo

For once I thought 16 Days of activism was running of steam for lack of context and well-targeted messaging, even though I still feel the concept of the campaign is still relevant, especially after I lost my sister to domestic violence in April this year. Add the case of Tino Katsande and many other silent women out there who have keep the ugly head of domestic violence under cover, it should surely give more oomph and an aura of relevance to the campaign.

But the current divorce case of the rich and famous raises more pertinent questions on several fronts. Perhaps the first question that needs attention is that, is it possible to be a senior politician or business person in Zimbabwe and still have a stable marriage relationship?

Over the past few years, the media has run several stories of senior politicians whose marriages were on the rocks ranging from very senior military leaders (both retired and still serving), government ministers and senior party leaders. In most of these cases, it is the women who file or complain of mistreatment by their men to an extent that they opt to quit the institution of marriage than face abuse. Is it that our political culture does not promote marriage values or it is just that the behaviour of Zimbabwe men who cannot resist the beauty of young girls as soon as they ride on power and wealth? I shall leave that to you the reader to decipher.

The second question challenges the probity of our government’s commitment to transparency and accountability. The period of the government of national unity was characterised by calls for a land audit with the objective of identifying multiple land owners. But every time such was raised it was shot down by those who claimed to have fought for the country. Until to date, the nation does not know who owns how many farms and have relied on women, especially divorce cases of senior politicians have given us an insight into who owns how many farms. Can we therefore promote more divorces in order to know the truth of who is corrupt in the system when we have competent policing system?

This is not only important for transparency purposes, but for the development of the country. Take for example; there is a general assumption among Zimbabweans that land is a good form of investment. This means that people can acquire, using their political connections, as much land as they can which they do not develop, but then resale it in one or two years for double or triple the original price even when the piece of land has not been developed. It is the poor like me and you, who are unfortunately, for the desire of owning a property, are exposed to the vagaries of these greedy Zimbabwe capitalist tendencies. It is the development of the country that suffers in the long term.

In the end, it is the country’s productive energies that are stifled and suffer. Instead of the purchasers of land investing part of his earning on other productive sectors, most of their earnings are trapped into servicing loans provided by the land barons creating an unnecessary cycle of poverty on people who would otherwise be better off if the means of production such as land are properly regulated.

In our case, this is very problematic and perhaps one of the reasons the economy will not grow to its full potential. There is always a problem when 80% of the economy is owned and controlled by less than 20% of the population as the success of such an economy is dependent on the whims of those few, especially when it is clear that those few have no other intentions than amassing vast tracks of land and price speculation. This problem is bigger than just land ownership as it goes further to affect the DNA of the broader economy. Take for example, the indigenisation policy has been largely framed around ownership and not production and property utilisation.

While ownership remains the base, modern economies have shifted to focus largely on production and utilisation. This is why China instead of buying land or colonising countries to access land, they in fact rent land from which they meet food requirements for their people. Still the Chinese approach stupefies the African land owners, as it earns them only in rentals and leave the land exhausted and of less value on the market. To our war veterans, for all the trouble you have given the people of this country, when you say you fought for land, did you mean you fought for those few people to own half the country? I will be pleased to get your response on this unless your chose to subordinate the war cause to the whim of our new capitalists.

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