President Mnangagwa’s stance on downsizing large farms to accommodate other land seekers should be applauded. The need to equitably distribute farming land in Zimbabwe is still a cause for concern as some blacks are still marginalised, while others have had more than their fair share of the national cake with instances of multiple farm ownership being many.
It is no doubt that the land reform programme was seized with a lot of hygienic issues, some of which concerns have long been identified and calls made for their rectification.
It is heartening to note that the new dispensation has vowed to address the issue with the urgency it deserves.
Addressing supporters at a rally in Mvuma two weeks ago, President Mnangagwa highlighted that the Government was carrying out a survey on multiple farm ownership and those with big farms to ensure equitable land distribution to the majority of the people who are landless.
This gives hope to the land seekers. However, the issue should be addressed with urgency by the responsible authorities.
Greedy politicians and others with big financial muscles currently own more than one farm and some own huge farms with as much as 30 000 hectares yet the majority of the citizens who also deserve the same right do not possess even a 100sqm plot.
So the issue of downsizing farms is a noble idea.
Critics said that President Mnangagwa was trying to reverse the land reform programme after he gave a directive that the remaining white commercial farmers be given 99-year leases.
He made it clear that the land reform programme was irreversible and emphasised the need to modernise agriculture to increase productivity, which is very critical.
It is imperative that as the Land Commission is moving around carrying out surveys on people with big farms and multiple farm owners, it also exposes land officers in districts and in the provinces who are involved in corrupt land deals.
Some of these officers have taken advantage of the value of land and land under their jurisdiction in order to enrich themselves and to indulge in corruption.
They have taken corruption to a higher level utilising the God-given resource — land.
It is undeniable that there are some who “bite more than they can chew” when they apply for land under the land reform programme.
The majority of A2 model farmers are failing to fully utilise their farms, hence, the need to share with others who are in need of the land.
It would not be useful for Zimbabweans to pride themselves in having acquired 12 million hectares of arable land from white former commercial farmers, but fail to use all of it.
Cutting the sizes of farms will also restore confidence on the market.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy and the bedrock of Zim-Asset. Its success will depend on implementing such measures as cutting farm sizes regardless of who owns the land.
When embarking on downsizing farms, save for exceptional cases, it is advisable that officials apply the set out policy of a maximum size of 250ha in region 1, region 2(a) 350ha, region 2(b) 400ha, 500ha for region 3, while regions 4 and 5 have 1 500ha and 2 000ha respectively.