Whites commercial interests dominating Zimbabwe – says Biti; urges govt to give war vets farms’ title deeds

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By Anna Chibamu

HARARE East legislator Tendai Biti says government must give war veterans title deeds of farms they acquired in the Land Reform Programme adding they have nothing to show for their contribution to the country’s liberation.

Debating in Parliament on Thursday during the Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services Parly committee on the benchmark visit to Namibia on war veterans welfare, Biti said the liberation fighters should not be given offer letters which have no security.

“The first thing which we need to do is to give title deeds to war veterans of the farms that they acquired. You cannot make them subject to the offer letter. The greatest service we can do to war veterans, number one is to give them title deeds to the farms that they benefitted as a result of the Land Reform Programme.

“The offer letter is non-securitised and in breach of Chapter 16 of the Constitution. The offer letter, just like their constituencies, can go just like the wind – bhuru bhuru, yabhururuka seshiri,” Biti said referring to Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba who led the farm invasions in 2000 and recently lost his constituency in the Zanu PF primaries.

Further, the MP said: “Let us give them security of tenure kuti chanoti chandakarwirawo ndechichi. Chandinosiirawo vazukuru vangu ndechichi, that land and if we say the basis of the Land Reform Programme was the land, then the basis of the reward of the war veteran must be the land. That should be the starting point. Why are we afraid to give war collaborators the land? Let us give them title deeds.”

”Land was the basis of the liberation struggle and hence ownership of it is deemed to have the potential of socially and economically empowering veterans and their dependents.”

The former Finance minister told Parliament acting speaker Tatenda Mavetera that land ownership was still protecting whites’ interests.

“Forty-four years after independence, much of that land is still intact and owned by white commercial interests. Billy Rautenbach for instance, owns tonnes and tonnes of land in the Chipinge-Chisumbanje area,” added Biti.

He however explained that less than 5% of the farms are still not leased by white farmers.

“Whilst we complained about the problem of white ownership of farms and multiple ownership of our farms by white farmers, right now the biggest challenge is multiple farm leasing by white interests in this country.

“This country is still owned, controlled and run by white commercial interests, whether it is in mining, farming, manufacturing, banking, legal and auditing sector, white commercial interests are still dominating in this country. It is not yet Uhuru; there is unfinished business of the liberation struggle.”

On the 1997 pay-outs issue, Biti said the money was pegged in an unstable volatile currency.

“Many of the war veterans have nothing to show for that. We are giving them pensions in a volatile, non-stable currency. Let us give our war veterans their pensions in a stable currency.

“The government itself has recognized the volatility of the Zimbabwean dollar by levying everything in USD; passports, number plates, birth certificates, milk from Pick ‘n’ Pay, school fees and license in USD but war veterans’ salaries in RTGs isu tonyebera kuvada vanhu ava,” said Biti.

Biti called for a permanent representation of war veterans in the National Assembly through a quota system.