27 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Mutambara Backs Land Reform

DEPUTY Prime Minister (DPM) Arthur Mutambara has described the chaos that characterised the land reforms at the turn of the millennium as unavoidable.

During an address in Parliament last week, the DPM said the land reform was a revolution and by their nature revolutions are ugly.

"The land reform was a revolution. Revolutions, by definition, are not pretty; they are untidy. There has never been a bloodless revolution in history. So these are the things we need to address now, having gotten the land through a revolutionary process," he said.

"What I am emphasising is that, having carried out the land reform programme, we must make sure that now we tie the loose ends. We move away from land acquisition to productivity, driving up yields per hectare and embracing viable land use in the country."

The DPM said it was a travesty of justice for government to make a commitment to pay former white farmers for improvements they made on the properties while not applying the same principle to former farm workers.

He also highlighted the need to ensure the bankability of 99-year leases saying without that land would be dead capital.

Mutambara said the process of restoring collateral value of land must be tied to the issue of compensation for former white farmers for improvements they made on farms as the former can use the bankability of the properties to sue in the courts to get their dues.

The improvements include infrastructure such as houses, dams, warehouses and irrigation schemes, among others.

He said dialogue could be opened up as to what help beneficiaries of the land reform could contribute towards payments to former white farmers for improvements although the state is primarily responsible for the compensation.

Mutambara said farmers must have security of tenure and one must not lose his or her property for choosing to belong to a political party of his or her own choice.

"The land must not be used as a political football. You must keep your farm if we are serious about the land revolution.

"Why should the farm be taken because I am now party B? If I have the farm, I have the freedom to be a member of Ndonga, Mavambo, MDC-A, MDC-B, MDC-C and so on," said Mutambara.

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