By Staff Reporter
Mutare: Zimbabwe should now put behind its land reform programme and focus on maximum production to revive the ailing economy, former Commercial Farmers Union vice President Trevor Gifford has said.
Gifford, a white former commercial farmer, said this while making a contribution during Zanu PF’s Third Business Breakfast Meeting held in the eastern border city Thursday.
The meeting was organised by the party`s department of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment under the mantra, Zimbabwe is Open for Business and Dialogue.
According to Zanu PF party secretary for finance, Patrick Chinamasa, the meeting sought to craft policies and strategies that increase local participation in the economy.
Gifford was evicted from his farm in Chipinge in 2006 at the height of government’s fierce land grab waged on the ostensible bid to redress colonial land imbalances.
“It’s now 20 years after the land reform. Let’s close the chapter and give an opportunity to those who can fully utilise the land.
“I am a citizen of Zimbabwe who also wants the same opportunity so that I can be an active participant in the nation and economic rebuilding,” said Gifford.
He said the country has vast tracts of fertile land lying idle, adding that government should consider giving it to those with potential to produce and create employment.
“We have vast tracts of fertile land lying idle. Let’s give an opportunity to those who can fully utilise the land for the benefit of the nation,” he said.
Gifford said it was time the country went back to the basics of economics.
“We need to go back to the basics. Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy. Agriculture and tourism are two major economic drivers that Zimbabwe should leverage on to boost the economy,” he said.
Gifford said although mining is a major income earner for the country, the industry takes longer to bring returns.
“Minerals take longer to bring back returns. So, we should give more attention to agriculture,” he said.
The one-time commercial farmer also said the country`s tourism sector has potential to turn around the fortunes of the waning economy but the country did not have capacity to move around the tourists from one destination to the other.
“The sector has potential but the country has no ability to move around tourists,” he said.
“The country is amazing, but we can’t fly tourists around. We don’t have the ability to bring people under the Zimbabwean banner. It should not be about Victoria Falls but flying people to Mutare, Masvingo and other attraction areas,” said Gifford.
He said the country should invest in smaller planes with capacity to carry around 12-18 passengers, adding, “this is a good opportunity”.
Gifford also said policy makers should not bring emotions into the topic and focus on inventing solutions and good opportunities for locals.
“Good policies create good opportunities; not outsiders but local people to invest.
“It’s not about political affiliation but bringing on board, good and sound policies that create opportunities,” said Gifford.