By Paidashe Mandivengerei
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned his government was going to seize tracts of land from multiple farm owners and further trim the sizes of some farms to leave owners with a “reasonable” size of land.
Mnangagwa in October last year appointed a Zimbabwe Land Commission to conduct an agricultural land audit at district level in the eight farming provinces of the country.
The purpose of the audit was to account for multiple farm ownership and land sizes.
Speaking at the on-going Zanu PF annual National People’s Conference in Goromonzi on Friday, Mnangagwa said his administration would soon knock on the doors of those found wanting by the land audit and leave each family with a single farm while other properties will be downsized.
“The ongoing land audit will result in downsizing land. This would be in compliance with the maximum farm size of each farm region and our determination to eliminate multiple farm owners,” Mnangagwa told party delegates.
“There are people with high profile posts like me who have three or four farms. We will not shy away from taking back that land. Each family must remain with one and of a correct size. Those with many, many farms, you know it deep down in your hearts that the time will come.”
Several senior Zanu PF and government officials are set to lose their farms if Mnangagwa lives up to his threats.
For the past 20 years, government has been threatening to repossess farms from multiple farm owners but nothing has been done.
Former First Lady Grace Mugabe is one of the politicians reported to own 14 farms.
Government launched its controversial land reform programme in 2000 to address the country’s land imbalances resulting in thousands of white farmers losing commercial farms.
A report presented by the commission of inquiry into the Sale of State Land since 2005, chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena, revealed there was clear use of high-profile ruling party politicians in influencing decisions concerning land appropriation and abuse of office.
Government is owed close to US$3 billion by urban land barons and little effort has been made to recover the money, resulting in the State recovering less than 10% of the total amount.
“I have since received the report of the commission of inquiry into urban State land which revealed glaring excesses and acts of corruption by land barons and their supporters,” Mnangagwa said.
“As a party, we will not accept a situation where our people live in squalid conditions 39 years after independence, as a result of being swindled out of their hard-earned money by these criminal elements.
“Those implicated in the commission’s report which I received three days ago must be brought to book without fear or favour.”