Zimbabwe: MDC Legislators Demand Farms

22 April 2021

MDC-Alliance legislators yesterday demanded that they be allocated farms under the historic land reform, despite the opposition party consistently denouncing the programme at home and abroad for the last two decades.

The lawmakers told the National Assembly during the ministerial question session that most of them had applied for land, but none had been allocated farms.

Government sharply accelerated land reform in 2000, bringing the bulk of private rural land into State-ownership with the aim of reallocating it on lease, to address inherited colonial land imbalances, to ensure that all land was productively farmed, and to allow the Government to control the creation of over-large estates.

Zengeza West legislator Mr Job Sikhala asked Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Anxious Masuka if any member of the opposition had been allocated land.

"There are many people from the opposition who have applied for land," he said.

"We have heard that land is being distributed on a partisan basis." Southerton legislator Mr Peter Moyo asked why Government was taking long to identify land not being used so that opposition members can also benefit.

"How many members from the opposition have benefited?" he said. "We are all Zimbabweans and we deserve to be allocated land."

MDC members refused to apply at the advent of the allocation programme, and now like other late applicants, who include deserving youths with a background and qualifications in agriculture, have to wait for land to become available.

Zanu PF legislators interjected, wondering why the opposition MPs left their allocations so late.

In response to the MDC MPs, Minister Masuka said there was no discrimination on land allocation.

There had been 200 000 applications of land, yet about 10 percent of these remained to be allocated.

His ministry was still identifying land not being used, but resource constraints for the process remained a challenge.

To accelerate the process, the ministry had asked both A1 and A2 farmers to submit productivity returns detailing what they had been doing on the allocated land.

"When we started the land reform, it was a fast-track process and it was done at district and provincial level. These allocations were not integrated at head office, which is why we undertook an audit and the process was painstakingly slow," said Minister Masuka.

The Zimbabwe Land Commission, which is dealing with identifying unused land, is also saddled with more than 8 000 land disputes which it has to resolve.

Responding to another question, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema said all schools had been allowed to partner private players and embark on commercial projects aimed at generating income since Government had noted that most schools were not using resources such as land and human capital.

Legislators had asked him what Government was doing to mitigate water challenges in schools.

Minister Mathema said he was surprised that most schools were still buying uniforms for learners when they can capitalise on pupils studying fashion and fabrics to produce for them.

He said schools could either go into public-private partnerships or even build-operate-transfer arrangements to boost income at their schools.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said his ministry had now accelerated road rehabilitation to restore roads to their normal position after being heavily-damaged by rains.

Road repairs normally have to wait until after the rainy season to be long-lasting.

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