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Parliament of Zimbabwe

Second report of the portfolio commitee on lands, agriculture, water, development, rural resources and resettlement

Presented to Parliament on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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Executive Summary

  1. The Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water Development, Rural Resources and Resettlement of the Parliament of Zimbabwe undertook an assessment/audit of the country's ongoing land reform program with technical assistance from the Center for Applied Social Sciences (CASS)-Land Tenure Center (LTC) land reform and resettlement collaborative research project. The assessment was set against the stated policy objectives of the land reform program and the review itself sought to specifically pursue the objectives outlined in paragraph 2.5 below. The assessment was undertaken between January and March 2003 and saw the Committee visiting all the eight administrative provinces of Zimbabwe. The Committee held meetings at both provincial and district levels with key stakeholders in the Land Reform Programme notably the Provincial and District Land Identification Committees. The Committee also conducted field visits over a two- day period per province enabling it to observe developments and discuss with beneficiaries in selected sites/schemes.

  2. Time constraints, in part arising from the squeezed programme necessitated by the decision to visit all provinces, the possibility that some of the site visits could have been stage-managed and therefore not fully representative of the province or country-wide picture with regard to the programme and the Committee's inability to engage in any discussions with former commercial farmers notwithstanding the inherent complexities of the Land Reform Programme itself exerted their influence on an otherwise successful assessment study. While acknowledging these constraints, it is also critical to note that the Committee learnt a lot and gathered considerably credible evidence upon which the policy recommendations offered in this report are based.

  3. The Land Reform Programmes being executed and managed by both new and existing institutions. Some of the new institutions specifically created to manage the programme include the Land Identification Committees (national, provincial and district) and committees of seven at farm level. While the composition of these structures reflects the institutions ordinarily associated with the management of land reform it is the functions and the manner in which these were performed which was considerably and radically different from previous land reform phases. The study observed serious weak inter-institutional coordination between national and sub-national structures as well as interference from political players especially with regard to listing and de-listing of properties/farms and beneficiary selection. Consequently it is recommended that;

    1. The Ministry of Lands Agriculture and Rural Resettlement (Head Office) reviews the way it works, devolving appropriate functions to lower level autonomous structures.

    2. Coordination be enhanced and that at local level the authority overlaps be removed and institutional functions be streamlined.

    3. Information flow and management from the national to local level be both strengthened and better managed using processes that will see provinces and their districts participating in and sharing experiences including application of relevant lessons.

  4. Regarding aspects of land acquisition, planning and allocation, the review acknowledges the unprecedented levels of property gazetting, which are however proceeding against sluggish legal confirmations amidst a flurry of contestations. Related to this are isolated cases of properties caught in the acquisition net especially those which were in the process of changing hands from white to black commercial farmers. It is recommended that government;

    1. Facilitates blacks who have resources to acquire farms on their own to free up resources for the acquisition of land for those with few resources.

    2. Legislates the one-household-one farm policy and applies it across the board to obviate concentrating ownership of land in a few blacks with resources.

    3. Gives autonomy to provincial leadership to conclusively negotiate with farmers for land to avoid confusion and limit farm contestations stalling the programme currently.

    4. Offers white farmers land released through low A2 plot uptake as part of the negotiations/settlement for land acquired while also using the Maximum Farm Size Regulations to leave portions of land for white farmers in order to speed up confirmations and avoid the costly and time-consuming litigation processes.

  5. The review showed that allocation of land between A1 and A2, and between war veterans and ordinary people has been largely according to government policy. However, there were very low allocations to farm workers and to women in both scheme types. It is therefore recommended that:

    1. In the remaining allocations women and farm workers be given greater priority.

    2. Final registration of land rights should force co-ownership for those beneficiaries who are married.

    3. Better communication between District and Provincial Land Committees be practised to avoid multiple allocations.

  6. The assessment noted that plot uptake levels especially in A2 schemes were very low for a number of reasons including lack of clarity in land rights, lack of resources and poor match between farmers and land resources given. It is therefore recommended that government;

    1. Speedily concludes the legal acquisition of land.

    2. Clarifies the tenure arrangements on both A1 and A2 schemes.

    3. Gives the flexibility of replanning schemes to match beneficiary capabilities and preferences.

    4. Gives an allowance for beneficiaries in different schemes to negotiate plot swaps so that beneficiaries can move to schemes they feel are closely matched to their ability and their physical and human resource endowments.

  7. There is very high demand for tillage services in the resettlement areas, particularly in the A1 scheme and this demand is directed to DDF and DDF-facilitated tillage services, which are very inadequate and unreliable. It is therefore recommended that government;

    1. Provides more funding to resuscitate non-operational DDF tractors.

    2. Strictly enforces policy of DDF only supporting A1 and communal area farmers.

    3. Facilitates acquisition of animal draught power in schemes with enough provision of grazing land.

    4. Facilitates the setting up of private tillage hire services stationed within schemes through financial assistance as well as training services.

  8. The country has experienced serious droughts over the years resulting in serious food deficits. This has resulted in rain-fed agricultural (food) production being increasingly unreliable with the irrigation strategy gaining widespread policy and practical treatment in both communal and commercial production regimes. The current land reform was also accompanied with support through the irrigation fund, which the review found, unfortunately to be too centralized and biased against A1 farmers. There was also widespread ignorance of ZINWA regulations as well as vandalism of irrigation equipment especially in areas awaiting settlement. Group irrigation schemes have had problems in managing and sharing costs of irrigation (water, electricity and other costs). It is therefore recommended that:

    1. Part of the irrigation fund be specifically earmarked for support to A1 schemes with the funds being (decentralized) managed at provincial and district levels.

    2. Each land user group should be allocated a fixed limit of water for irrigation through ZINWA to ensure fair distribution of water and that such allocations and obligations be part of the agreement between the land reform beneficiary and the government.

    3. Training and setting up of irrigation management structures should be speeded up in A1 irrigation schemes to ensure fairness and sustainability of the schemes.

    4. Local authorities must ensure security of irrigation equipment in farms awaiting resettlement.

  9. The review found that input distribution, despite the drought, was very limiting to the realization of good harvest and that the GMB is failing to deliver the correct inputs, in adequate amounts and at the right time. Administering the scheme is also diverting the GMB from its core business of crop marketing and relief food distribution. In addition, the government input scheme has starved the established input dealership network of inputs and that significant amounts of the inputs are leaking to the parallel market and sold at excessive prices. It is recommended therefore that:

    1. The monopoly enjoyed by GMB in the distribution of inputs should be phased out with time, while in the interim, allowing the existing Agri-dealership network to complement GMB.

    2. In the long run inputs should be channeled through existing input dealership networks and that government helps needy farmers through a targeted input voucher scheme to avoid non-farmers diverting inputs to the black market. This would enable government to withdraw from subsidizing inputs without leaving a vacuum in the input distribution system when farmers become self-sufficient.

  10. Prices being offered to farmers are not viable considering they have to source the bulk of their inputs on the black market. By trying to keep consumer food prices low through keeping producer prices low, the government is pushing farmers to grow nonfood crops and endangering national food security. We commend the government for moving away from such a policy in the recently announced producer prices, which give production incentives, and explicitly subsidizes consumers by offering a lower price to millers. However, the GMB debt is a cause for concern to the Committee and, therefore, the Committee recommends that adequate steps should be taken to address this problem as a matter of urgency.

  11. Because of an increased farmer base arising from the placement of land reform beneficiaries on land hitherto used by fewer commercial farmers, extension personnel need to be increased. Despite this swelling demand for extension services, the department (AREX) has had trouble attracting people into its service as few candidates apply notwithstanding the lack of resources to hire and equip staff (transport, accommodation and communication hardware). In addition, the current extension style is also poorly matched to the class of new farmers especially those coming into the A2 scheme. It is therefore recommended that government;

    1. Institutes an aggressive extension worker-training programme to increase supply of appointable extension staff.

    2. Significantly increases the budgetary allocation to extension to cover staff and operational expense needs.

    3. Facilitates the placing of high priority by local authorities on accommodation of extension staff in existing farmhouses and other relevant infrastructure.

    4. Facilitates the institution of crash farm production training programmes especially for A2 farmers through sale of crop and livestock production manuals, workshops and seminars for urban- based A2 farmers and facilitating linkages with financial managers, input dealers as well as marketers.

  12. The review encountered a lot of dissatisfaction with the sizes of farms earmarked for livestock and game ranching. Recognizing that there is a critical land mass for a viable livestock or game ranching operation in the drier parts of the country and the need to benefit as many indigenous blacks as possible, it is recommended that resettlement farms falling in this category be replanned and scaled up with beneficiaries forming syndicates for joint ownership and management on an equal share basis.

  13. The state of the environment in fast track schemes is affected by a lack of clear land rights to the new settlers, weak natural resource management institutions if any and conflict between livelihoods, as is the case between gold panning and farming. In several of the resettlement schemes visited, fences have already been pulled down. In trying to solve environmental problems in the schemes, there is need to clarify the roles of and strengthening of the local level institutions. The institutions also operate using their little financial resources if any and hence remain weak in making and implementing decisions. To help in addressing the cited environmental problems, it is recommended that the state;

    1. Clarifies the position (policy) on which local level institutions are responsible for the environment between chiefs and village heads, committees of seven, war veterans or others.

    2. Adequately equips (materially and legislatively) the appropriate institutions with the required training in environmental management for onward application in conscientizing new settlers on the importance of conserving the environment.

    3. Designates clear land rights to the new settlers under both A1 and A2 schemes to enable better management of natural resources.

    4. Facilitates an all stakeholders dialogue process to deal with the gold panning and farming conflict including engaging gold panners positively and constructively, broadening understanding of regulations that control mining, particularly the registering of mining claims.

  14. Another major challenge to the programme, which the assessment observed relates to the provision and equipping of social-physical and economic infrastructure that will make the scheme areas both productive and habitable from a social amenities point of view. In this respect it is therefore imperative that the government;

    1. Creates a policy and legislative environment supportive of strategic public-private and public-private-voluntary partnerships where business including outgoing commercial farmers, NGOs and international donors find space for working in the new schemes complementing state resources and efforts.

    2. Facilitates the drawing of clear plans and policy positions for the use of and protection of existing infrastructure where it is in place to obviate problems of vandalism, conflicts over access and general obsolescence.

    3. RDCs be supported in planning for and providing services to the new schemes and thus be brought in to spearhead the management of the Land Reform Programme and related processes.

  15. Former farm workers have attracted attention in part because of the sheer numbers and because of concerns over their welfare. Generally, the case of farm workers is not properly understood because of non-availability of appropriate information. Some have been absorbed and integrated into the current programme either as beneficiaries in their own right or as employees. However, few farm-workers have either been given land or employed as employment creation by new A2 farmers is still very low and in this respect it is recommended that;

    1. A quota be established for this segment of the population as has happened to the war veterans with their 20% land allocation.

    2. Support be rendered to selected A2 farmers with the hope that this would generate more employment for this category of an already experienced labor force. This also entails working towards improving the plot take-up rates by the A2 farmers.

    3. The government can speed up the payment of compensation to the white commercial farmers so that they (farmers) can pay retrenchment packages allowing farm-workers to move on.

    4. Support be extended to provincial and district structures in keeping records on, inter alia, details of the affected farm-workers in their respective areas and how farm-workers have been assisted . This will help in the future in terms of monitoring and evaluation of the Land Reform Programme.

  16. The success of the land reform requires both focus and hard work. Some of the policy instruments already exist to make it a success but implementation is relatively weak in part because of political interests and inertia. On the other hand there is a considerable need for both new policy innovations and heightened implementation. Audits of this nature need to feed into reformulation of policies essential in dealing with some of the untidy aspects of the current Land Reform Programme while formalizing/regularilizing other aspects e.g. land rights, environmental management etc.

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