Zimbabwe has embarked on the land tenure programme meant to streamline and correct what it refers to as colonial imbalances. Despite what the government considered to be paramount and millennial milestone strides, in the eyes of the elites of course, that does not fully augur well with the peasantry’s aspirations.
guest column: Peter Makwanya
If we are to explore our national agricultural and climate national policies, we would agonisingly wonder how the poor and their pro-poor policies are signified. Pro-poor farming policies and pro-poor draft climate smart policies appear to sideline the real people they purport to represent.
In the absence of a significant and critical needs analysis, the poor seem to have been given a raw deal, yet it is their name that is used by the government to get whatever it wants. The “people” is the communist era type of a discourse that actually means the opposite of its intended meaning. Whenever the government mentions the phrase, “the people” then start not smelling only a rat, but a rabbit-sized one too.
Our supposed agricultural and climate smart policies constitute of high sounding and hollow-discourses, aimed at bombarding and arm twisting the passive and majority poor into unconscious compliance. These mega-nothing discourses do a lot to manhandle and suffocate the poor’s aspirations. Command Agriculture, resilience, and Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation are such muzzled words.
It is quite disheartening to note that our rich and famous are the ones who expropriate the land, then sell it to the poor, who happen not to have any land rights at all.
This is the land that is supposed to be apportioned to the poor for climate protection and adaptation programmes. The current draft climate smart policies being spearheaded by the responsible authorities appear to be designed to marginalize the poor from the local livelihoods and aspirations. Climate smart policies need not be high jacked by powerful self interests who take advantage of the poor and vulnerable communities with limited access to information about climate friendly policies.
Pro-poor policies should not rely on the manipulation by those who are supposed to protect their interests. More land for the rich and famous mean less and not enough land for the poor’s adaptation and climate smart programmes designed to uplift them from their “Lazarus” State of affairs.
More land should be reserved for the climate change adaptation programmes for climate smart farming, resilience and sustainability.
While the poor are the majority, it would not be good for the politicians and their kith and kin, to have access to the best land, while leaving the poor with nothing.
From the current and obtaining situations, there isn’t any increase in the land values that accommodate the poor so that they are able to implement their climate protection policies. By the virtue of their vulnerability and placement, they are strategically positioned to be actively involved in climate protection programmes.
The other critical and fundamental issues are how loud and essential are local poor farmers’ voices to participate in climate smart farming activities are.
There is also need for the food processing companies to reach out to the local poor farmers on the ground to facilitate and implement organic farming or climate smart farming, for example and provide incentives in the process, just to motivate and uplift the moral and spirits of the poverty-stricken communities.
It is also interesting to note the unavailability and non-presence of poor local farmers when the climate and sustainability policies are designed.
Indeed yes, they should be part and parcel of the essentially empowering dialogue so as to articulate and accommodate their wishes and aspirations. The poor also need to know their placement in the sustainability supply chain.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on: email@example.com