November 22, 2002

Government to acquire 130 000 more hectares

The Zimbabwean government has gazetted 130 033 hectares of land for acquisition despite its claims that the controversial land grab exercise had come to an end.

The government last week served Section 5 notices on 55 farmers for compulsory acquisition of their farms. The two Matabeleland provinces had 27 farms designated, Mashonaland Central province 11, and Mashonaland West six. Other areas that were affected include Harare and Manicaland. The farms that are earmarked for compulsory acquisition include Insingisi Farm in Bindura, Kayansee Ranch of Nuanetsi Ranch in Beitbridge, and River Ranch and Makovani estate in Insiza.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made told parliament earlier in November that the land reform programme had been completed. Commercial Farmers Union president Collin Cloete said farmers were no longer secure and this was set to affect production on the farms. "Farms are being listed every Friday," said Cloete. Mugabe has been grandstanding at international conferences saying no-one would be left without a farm but this policy has largely been ignored by his lieutenants. "We do not know what has happened to the one-man, one-farm policy because it is not being followed," said Cloete. "Even those farmers who have not been served with any orders are not secure any more. This is likely to affect production because banks do not know whether to lend them money or not because of the insecurity. There is need for Made to give farmers assurances so that production will be maximised."

Former Justice for Agriculture spokesperson Jenni Williams said Made should clear the air on the direction the land reform exercise was taking. "There is no clarification on the land reform exercise," said Williams. (Zimbabwe Independent, Harare)

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