June 9, 2004

All farmland to be nationalised, announces government

Zimbabwe's government has announced the nationalisation of all land as well as the abolition of private land ownership. John Nkomo, the lands minister, told that all title deeds will be declared void and the state will hand out 99-year leases for productive farmland. Farmers on wildlife conservancies will be granted only 25-year leases and a national land board will be set up to oversee the allocation of land, it was furthermore reported. The government did not intend to "waste time and money" in disputes with farmers whose land had been seized, regardless of what legal documents they held, Mr Nkomo was quoted as saying. "In the end all land shall be state land and there will be no such thing called private land," he said, encouraging all landowners to offer their newly acquired properties to be considered for leases.

Mr Nkomo did not say when the nationalisation programme would be imposed, but said a national land board would be set up to supervise the process and ensure the effective use of land. The decision appeared a backhanded admission that Zimbabwe is struggling to feed itself and that the situation is worsening. The opposition has long argued that the government has effectively laid waste to one of Africa's most efficient agricultural industries. (Daily Telegraph, UK / The Herald, Harare)

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