When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over the reins of power on November 24, 2017, immediately announcing his intention to compensate farmers who had lost their land during the chaotic land reform programme of the early 2000s, most people felt his government had signalled a departure from former despot Robert Mugabe’s regime.
When Robert Smart got his farm back late last year, it was a positive indicator from the Mnangagwa government, that indeed it was going to address the contentious land question.
However, despite putting in place another land commission tasked with probing multiple ownership of farms, nothing concrete has come out in terms of findings and recommendations although it is public knowledge that so many similar commissions were set up by Mugabe but their recommendations were never acted on.
Wedza farmer Richard Seager and Richard Connolly of Figtree have been fighting to get their land back from one Alester Ziyanga and senior civil servant Ray Ndhlukula respectively without success. These two rank as some of the most prominent cases that have been brought into the public glare but, of course, there are many similar cases countrywide which have gone unreported.
Former first lady Grace Mugabe seized a 23-hectare piece of land in Borrowdale from the Eaglesvale Daisyfield Trust, which had been donated about 40 years ago to Eaglesvale School by the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ) for the construction of a campus and the ownership battle is still raging.
Reports that a member of Mnangagwa’s Cabinet Kazembe Kazembe also seized land from Blackfordby College of Agriculture — which appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Daily News — shows government is finding it easy to talk about issues on which they are not keen to act.
Kazembe’s seizure of the 1 350-hectare farm, approximately 60 kilometres north west of Harare, despite Mnangagwa’s vow to stop illegal land seizures and restore property rights, for long some of key issues leading to the sour relations between Harare and the western world, signals insincerity on the part of government.
While a number of explanations have been proffered for the acquisition, at the policy level it does not bode well for the Mnangagwa administration, which had seemingly shown intend to chart a completely new route in terms of land tenure.
If government does not come out clear on its land policy, it would appear it has not moved from the previous regime’s ruinous stance. DailyNews