Stephen Mpofu Correspondent
A fortnight ago, some Zimbabweans came out strongly on radio against the Government’s decision to compensate, without approval by the public at large, white former commercial farmers for improvements made on land repossessed under the 2001 fast-track land reform programme.
Probably voicing the views of like-minded opponents of compensation to the white settlers, the individuals in question spoke with a vehemence bordering on intents, wilful or otherwise, to open a pandora’s box and thus making it difficult, if not impossible for any incumbent government in future to make bold decisions for the benefit of the nation without every Jack and Jill giving the go-ahead.
To begin with, the First Republic Government did not consult the masses before introducing the land reform programme, which resulted in illegal Western sanctions that have over the years wreaked havoc on Zimbabwe’s economy.
As a Government of the people, by the people, the Zimbabwean Government, like any such democratic government, possesses an inherent right to take decisions beneficial to the people governed without first asking if the populace approves of such decisions.
As such, our Government, comprising leaders elected to power by the masses, knew, without having to embark on a referendum for public opinion, that repossessing land seized by colonial settlers would make independence and freedom complete when the masses became reunited with their stolen land.
This is the land over which the armed struggle was fought, with some gallant sons and daughters of the soil sacrificing their very sacred lives for independence, freedom and self-determination.
The compensation is expected to try and end the controversy over land reform and succeed in re-engaging the international community — and perhaps end the economic and financial embargo on Zimbabwe so that the country at long last may access finance from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Some of those who imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe command unstinting sway in the World Bank and the IMF.
The Government has set aside RTGS$53 million for compensating the farmers for improvements made to the land repossessed for the agrarian revolution.
However, there are reports to the effect that the white former farmers affected along with other members of the white community say the compensation amount set aside is inadequate. That may or may not be so, but the fact remains that Government should not be seen to allocate money that is tantamount to buying back our own motherland.
The ball is now in the court of the former settler farmers affected by land reform who should take or thumb their noses at the compensation and leave Zimbabweans to forge ahead with making the land, all agricultural land in this country, benefit from devolution.
Its all systems go towards implementing the devolution of central Government power to all local authorities in order to equalise social and economic development between rural and urban areas, with Government allocating funds to the agricultural bank for livestock purchases, among other important programmes.
Which suggests that the land audit now under way should be speeded up so that those people unable to utilise farms to the maximum for the benefit of the nation are made to surrender the land to those more capable of feeding the nation.
People who pride themselves in owning land which lies dormant are no different from those white former settler farmers who might, to spite the black Government of the day, have grown exotic grass for export or to fatten their livestock for sale to swell their bank accounts, while the black masses went hungry by irking out meagre existence on infertile tracts of land.