Zimbabwe farmers still waiting for alternative farms  

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Misanet.com / Zimbabwe Independent, 13 April - Commercial farmers owning a single farm but listed under the controversial fast-track land reform are still waiting for government to provide them with an alternative farm, the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered. President Mugabe has said on several occasions, particularly when addressing foreign audiences, that the government will provide a replacement farm to any farmer who has had his only property acquired.

A Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) official told the Independent that there were such farms which had been listed for acquisition but no replacements had been offered. "No farmer has been given alternative land for his single farm which has been listed," said the CFU official, who asked not to be named.

- And there is no tangible demonstration to show commitment to replace those farms that have been incorrectly identified, he added. According to the revised Land Acquisition Act passed in September last year, government could list farms abutting communal areas but had to immediately replace the listed farm with another one.

However, since the land acquisition process began, landless people were hurriedly resettled with farmers left with nothing. "Any logic would tell one that the moment a single-owned farm has been listed, an alternative replacement should automatically be put in place. But that’s not the case," the official said. "Evidence of cases pending in the Administrative Courts indicates that the whole exercise was incorrectly done." 

Farmers who spoke to the Independent said the major problem they were facing was that the land distribution exercise was wholly unfavourable to the plight of commercial farmers. "It’s clear in the Act that a single-owned farm, if listed, should be replaced, but no farmer was relocated despite having been promised this by government," said a tobacco farmer in a telephone interview from Macheke.

- I have been a tobacco farmer for more than 15 years on my single farm and I enjoy farming. I don’t object to my farm being listed as long as I am transferred to another farm where I will continue growing my tobacco, he said.

Critics blamed the government for using the land acquisition process for political gains while plunging the agro-based economy into turmoil. "Land reform has become a political instrument rather than a programme based on economic rationale, wealth redistribution and development," said the CFU in a working document prepared after an extraordinary meeting held at Art Farm on March 21.

The CFU was worried that the continued disagreement on compensation would be a major stumbling block in crafting a way forward. Lands minister Joseph Made told the official media recently that the government had started compensating farmers, an issue which was categorically denied by commercial farmers whose farms have been listed.

By Forward Maisokwadzo, Zimbabwe Independent

© Zimbabwe Independent.

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