ZIMBABWE: WHERE IS THE LAND COMMSSION? SAPEM October 1993 2 (bold as in original)

We return to the persistent and glaring problem that is the Land Question in Zimbabwe; this is SAPEM's third edition on the subject (see SAPEM: Oct. 1989; April 1992). It is sad and disappointing that the question appears still quite far from resolution, ever since 1980 and notwithstanding the commendable efforts made so far in that direction. It is, therefore, most understandable that there should be so much anger and frustration on the part of the government itself, particularly President Robert Mugabe. (Indeed, except for Vice President Joshua Nkomo's equally poignant statements on the subject, President Mugabe appears to be largely on his own, whereas such a campaign should have been led and waged by his Cabinet members and back-benchers alike).

The anger and impatience must itself reflect the government's own failure -- whatever the reasons - to resolve this burning question . And, therefore, our sincere hope that the government will mobilise the entire nation and translate anger into a non-partisan Land Reform Programme that will establish the policy framework for the resolution of the Land Question in Zimbabwe.

We have no doubt as to the complexity of the question that is before Zimbabwe. But we wish hereby to reiterate points made in our earlier editions on the subject: a two-pronged approach in the context of the democratisation of land ownership in particular and the economy in general.

First, the need to institute a policy whereby the commercial farming sector will become more democratised through entry into this sector of more and more black commercial farmers. But this process itself does not, and cannot, resolve the Land Question. There is the real danger that in the not-too-distant future Zimbabwe could have the Land Question expressing itself in more formidable -- and, perhaps, even more unresolvable form - as blacks will in the future occupy the same position as 4,000 white commercial farmers occupy today. So, while one welcomes the democratisation of the commercial farming sector, we believe that it is imperative that the question of the size of farm per region, as well as the primacy of food production and concern for the interests of agricultural workers, be placed at the forefront.

Second, the need to ensure that the peasantry, the land-hungry masses of the country, receive more land. That is the crux of the Land Question in Zimbabwe.

But we should add immediately that the above are not, and should never, be mutually exclusive. In other words, any attempt to confine land redistribution to the concerns of the black middle class alone should be condemned; even if it is under the guise that only those who are able to farm should get the land. Peasants have been farming since time immemorial; with better national planning, Zimbabweans can ensure that both the commercial and peasant sectors contribute to the national wealth of the country.

Again, we call for the establishment of a National Land Commission, composed of politicans and technocrats, and charged with the responsibility of ensuring both the effective implementation of the Land Acquisition Act and advising that nation on a comprehensive Land Reform Programme.

This material derives from Hyperland, a University of Zimbabwe hypertext project under the direction of Andrew Morrison, and I would like to thank him and the authors quoted for sharing their research with this website. [GPL]
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