Zimbabwe’s Historic Land Audit: A Step Towards Sustainable Agriculture

The audit, which was conducted by the Zimbabwe Lands Commission, aims to address the issues of land allocation, distribution, utilisation, productivity and tenure security.

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe has completed a landmark land audit that covers more than 250,000 farms across the country. The audit, which was conducted by the Zimbabwe Lands Commission (ZLC), aims to address the issues of land allocation, distribution, utilisation, productivity and tenure security.

The land audit was a constitutional mandate that followed the land reform programme that started in 2000 when the government seized white-owned farms and redistributed them to landless black Zimbabweans. The programme was meant to redress the colonial imbalances and empower the majority, but it also faced challenges such as multiple farm ownerships, double allocations, underutilisation and environmental degradation.

The ZLC, which was established in 2013, used a Land Information Management System (LIMS) to collect and analyse data from 254,538 farms, excluding communal lands. The LIMS database contains information on the farm categories, beneficiaries, investments, production, land management, environmental management and social services.

The ZLC chairperson, Commissioner Tendai Bare, presented the final report to President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the State House yesterday. She said the LIMS would help the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders to formulate evidence-based policies and strategic interventions to ensure productivity, social equity, economic growth and poverty eradication.

According to the report, the audit found that 20.8 per cent of the beneficiaries were women, 5.6 percent were youths and 60.8 per cent were ordinary farmers from the communal areas. The report also revealed that the farmers enjoyed the basket of rights as articulated in the Constitution, such as the right to transfer, occupy, use, exclusivity and ownership. The only rights they did not enjoy were disposal and acquisition, as agricultural land is vested in the state.

The report also showed that some farmers faced challenges such as lack of access to finance, markets, inputs, extension services and infrastructure. The report recommended that the government should capacitate the farmers with the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) Bank, which was launched in 2022 to provide loans and financial services to the agricultural sector.

The report also suggested that the government should protect the rights of the farmers and withdraw them if they violated the provisions of the Constitution. The report also urged the government to address the issues of multiple farm ownerships, double allocations and underutilisation, which were found to be minimal but still problematic.

The land audit was welcomed by various stakeholders, including the farmers, civil society, development partners and the international community. The audit was seen as a positive step towards resolving the land question in Zimbabwe, which has been a source of conflict and controversy for decades.

The land audit was also seen as a way of enhancing the credibility and transparency of the land reform programme, which has been criticised for being chaotic, violent and politically motivated. The audit was also seen as a way of improving the agricultural productivity and food security in Zimbabwe, which has been affected by climate change, droughts and economic challenges.

The land audit was funded by the Treasury, which allocated $25 billion for the project. The audit took five years to complete, starting in 2018. The ZLC deployed trained staff to conduct the audit in all the provinces and districts where agricultural land is vested.

The ZLC said the report was an abridged version, containing micro statistics that could be of interest to the President. The ZLC said it was up to the President to make the report public. The ZLC also said it would continue to monitor and evaluate the land situation in Zimbabwe, using the LIMS database as a tool.

The land audit is expected to have a positive impact on the agricultural sector and the economy of Zimbabwe, which is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sanctions imposed by Western countries. The land audit is also expected to foster peace and reconciliation among Zimbabweans, who have different views and experiences on the land issue.

The land audit is a milestone achievement for Zimbabwe, which has embarked on a new path of reform and development under the Second Republic. The land audit is a testament to the commitment and vision of the President, who has pledged to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

Source: The Herald


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