By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) president and former Home Affairs minister under President Robert Mugabe’s government, Dumiso Dabengwa, has slammed the land reform programme, saying it has contributed to the current “politically-induced” economic crisis.
The Zanu PF government embarked on the land redistribution exercise from early 2000, purportedly to resettle thousands of land hungry Zimbabweans.
Violent farm invasions forced out some 6,000 white commercial white farmers, leading to international condemnation and isolation of Zimbabwe, and a subsequent economic meltdown.
Addressing ZAPU members in Insiza, Matabeleland South last week, Dabengwa said the “chaotic” land redistribution programme benefited a few greedy individuals who were well connected.
“The general political instability…has been coming for over a decade. One of the earlier indicators was the chaotic land ‘reform’ agenda, whereby well-connected individuals acquired several farms.
“Many of these farms have naturally been run down because they were acquired out of greed rather than an intention to produce effectively for the domestic and international market,” said Dabengwa.
He bemoaned the continued seizure of productive farm projects.
In August 2014 alleged Zanu PF militia invaded Dabengwa’s Rudy Farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North, accusing him of underutilising it, but they later backtracked.
Dabengwa was the Home Affairs minister between 1992 and 2000 and was relieved of his post by Mugabe for reportedly resisting the farm invasions.
In March 2000, a short period after the land grabs led by war veterans started, Dabengwa publicly denounced them and called on the invaders to stop them “for the good of the country”.
“If the (farm) occupations are allowed to continue, this will lead to chaos, and at the end of the day everyone will suffer,” said Dabengwa then.
He unsuccessfully tried to block constitutional amendments allowing government to seize farmland without compensation.
A new book, “The Land Reform Deception”, co-authored by Charles Laurie and Stephen Chan and published by Oxford University Press in March this year, quotes Dabengwa saying the redistribution exercise was unplanned.
In the book, Dabengwa describes the exercise as a “rapidly conceived” reaction to a political threat from MDC which had been formed in late 1999 and led the rejection of an imposed constitution in February 2000.
“It was something that was spontaneous,” said Dabengwa, who broke away from Zanu PF in 2008 following President Robert Mugabe’s insistence to continue leading the party despite earlier promises to step down.
The book also quotes a former senior police officer, Edward Chidembo, and a high ranking Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agent, Hastings Lundi, saying the land seizures were a political gimmick to mollify the electorate following the formation of MDC. Nehanda Radio