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Report of Presidential Land Review Committee on the implementation of the fast track land reform programme

'The Utete Report'

Zimbabwe 2003

This document (posted in January 2004) replaces the version posted in December 2003.
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Executive summary of the main findings and recommendations

  1. THE Committee was able to establish, in regard to those who appeared before it at both national and provincial levels, that:

    1. Ministers and other Government officials wholly supported the Programme, stated it to have been successfully implemented in the face of formidable odds, but variously noted numerous obstacles that impinged on the implementation process, including resource constraints, the legal framework, bureaucracy and related operational difficulties.

    2. Beneficiaries of the Programme generally expressed happiness with the outcome of Programme implementation and the manner in which their own lives had begun to be transformed, in some cases reportedly dramatically. Yet complaints were also heard from would-be beneficiaries who were awaiting resettlement as promised by their local leaders, particularly the Chiefs, or who, in the case of applicants for the model A2 plots, had still to be informed as to the fate of their applications or as to whether their plots would be given back to them or replacement allocations made where such plots had been taken over irregularly by other persons or where the farms in question had been "delisted". In addition some former white commercial farmers wrote or telephoned the Committee's Secretariat seeking the latter's intervention to enable them to return to their farms on the basis that they were in compliance with all criteria set by Government in this regard. The Committee referred such cases to Government for review and rectification where deemed warranted.

    3. Representatives of farmers' unions, the financial services sector, and agro-business generally saw land reform as vital for the country's political stability and economic development, while however insisting that agriculture be placed on a properly planned and adequately resourced basis.

  2. It should be noted that the process of acquiring and distributing land to the people under the two resettlement models, the Al and A2, was undertaken in a complex legal framework which rendered the process both difficult and cumbersome. As the Committee went about its work it could not fail to be struck by the number and variety of legal issues that still required resolution in respect of the acquisition procedures; the allocation of land to beneficiaries, especially under the A2 model; the assessment of the value of improvements; and ownership and access to moveable assets on the farms. Inevitably, the Governmental machinery for administering these matters was taxed to the limit.

    Above all, there was a major contradiction observed as between the 1992 Land Acquisition Act as amended, which provides for the compulsory acquisition of land, and the provision embedded in the Constitution which requires that such acquisition be confirmed by the Administrative Court. This contradiction ought to be removed.

    1. The Committee established that nationally a total of 2 652 farms with a combined hectarage of 4 231 080 had been allocated to 127 192 households under the A1 resettlement model as of 31st July 2003. The take up rate by beneficiaries was 97%. As for the A2 resettlement model, the corresponding figures were 1 672 farms amounting to 2 198 814 hectares for 7 260 applicant beneficiaries. The take up rate under this model however ranged from 42% (Manicaland) to 100% (Matabeleland South), with an average take up rate of 66% nationally. This failure by some 34% of applicants to take up their allocations implied a considerable amount of land lying fallow or unused while, ironically, thousands of would-be A2 beneficiaries were pressurising the authorities to be allocated land.

    2. Regarding former farm workers the Committee established that a number had been officially resettled under the Programme, and others had secured employment with the new farmers whilst the remainder opted to either return to their countries of origin or to their rural homes in Zimbabwe. The third category however remained in the farm compounds pending a determination of their fate by the Government.

    3. It was also established that 1 323 white farmers remained with 1 377 farms, amounting to 1 175 607 hectares as at 31st July 2003. The total landholding under this category constitutes about 3% of land in the country, excluding land held by corporate entities. The presence or otherwise of these farmers on the land could not in all cases be verified at the time of the compilation of this Report.

      1. The Committee recommends that A2 plots not taken up by applicants already notified of their availability be allocated to other A2 applicants still on the waiting list subject to the bulk of the land in question being reassigned to, and re-planned for, the A1 model with a view to further decongesting the communal areas.
      2. The Committee also recommends that the resettlement models be recast with respect to some parts of the country such that the old three-tier model is restored in parts of Matabeleland South.
      3. The Committee further recommends that a corporate-type model with a component to provide for local community participation is established in plantations, conservancies, safaris and forest areas with particular reference to the two Matabeleland Provinces, Masvingo and Manicaland. The Committee has noted that development in these areas has up until now occurred in a haphazard or segmented manner. Worse, the Fast Track saw what amounted to an attempt to subdivide these areas into individual plots which would clearly be unviable. The Committee calls for a comprehensive policy and approach that would ensure that returns to the country in both local and foreign currency multiply well beyond what has been realised to date.
      4. The Committee recommends that the issue of leases or other forms of legal title for the beneficiaries of the A2 model be concluded speedily. Such title is vital for assured productive use of the land. The variability in plot sizes and the state of prior improvements on them (including such assets as houses and other infrastructure, etc) should be properly assessed for purposes of determining the quantum of individual lease rentals and other cost recovery measures as may be determined.
      5. The Committee recommends that Government urgently addresses the situation of former farm workers in the farm compounds. Their continued presence on the farms had created numerous problems arising from illegal gold panning, misuse of farm facilities and resources and general criminal activities.

  3. Given the historically diverse and pivotal role of women in all aspects of agriculture in the communal lands and the need to strike an overall gender balance in this crucial sector of the economy, measures such as those outlined under the relevant section of Part IV of this Report should be implemented to ensure equity in, and the effectiveness of, the agrarian reform in the country. Moreover, in order to ensure the survival and stability of the growing number of families in rural areas now headed by women and even children as a result of the devastation wreaked on society by the AIDS pandemic, and in the light of the growing phenomenon of the feminisation of poverty among women-headed households, the gender dimension of the agrarian reform needs to be kept uppermost in the transformation of the sector in the context of the Fast Track. The agrarian reform thus constitutes an important vehicle for economically empowering women.

  4. Programme implementation was adversely affected by many factors, among them a hostile external political environment, national macro-economic instability, and adverse weather conditions vis-a-vis a largely rain-fed agricultural sector. Other impediments to Programme implementation included limited financial and other resources and administrative difficulties encountered by an over-stretched bureaucratic apparatus suddenly called upon to implement a complex programme in great haste, and in a context that turned out to be exploitable by some through unauthorised and unilateral interventions in the allocation process.

    1. The Committee thus recommends that there be undertaken a major overhaul of the machinery of Government involved in land and agricultural affairs such that these functions are handled by two separate Ministries, a Ministry of Agriculture and a Ministry of Land Affairs.

    2. The Ministry of Agriculture would deal with all agricultural matters including water development and irrigation. It would also house most if not all of the parastatals currently engaged in agricultural activities of one kind or another. These parastatals themselves would need to be reformed in the manner indicated under Part IV hereunder. In addition the proposed Agricultural Marketing Council (see Part IV) would be so structured as to provide a direct link to the Ministry.

    3. The Ministry of Land Affairs would have responsibility on all land issues including land registration, resolution of boundary disputes, the proffering of advice to Government on matters of tenure, compensation, farm sizes, land taxation, land subdivisions, distribution and allocation.

    4. To facilitate the effective functioning of the Ministry of Land Affairs, it is recommended that a semi-autonomous National Land Board be established. The Board would exercise both executive and advisory functions vis-a-vis the Ministry.

    5. Further, the Committee recommends that the National Land Board be empowered to ensure that land allocated to the people under the Land Reform Programme is fully utilised. Any demonstrated failure over a defined period to use the land productively especially in regard to the A2 model should result in cancellation of leases, and the re-allocation of the land to those willing and able to make use of it.

  5. Provincial profiles in the Programme implementation process reflect fairly similar problems and opportunities around the country. However, some problems were found to be more severe in some provinces than in others. Land use patterns were a major issue in the two Matabeleland Provinces as already noted under paragraph 3(ii) and (iii) above and under Part III of this Report. In addition the pressure for land in certain parts of the two provinces considered desirable was extremely intense as shown by the take up rates under the Al model of 100 percent for Matabeleland South and 120 percent for Matabeleland North. In Manicaland while the Provincial authorities cited the problem of land shortage, this Report noted that the province had the lowest take up rate (42 percent as against the national average of 66 percent) under resettlement model A2. More land could be secured for resettlement under the Al model, with any necessary modifications, on such state-owned land as that at Chisumbanje and Middle Save, some of which land is lying fallow. In Masvingo the issue of Plantations and Conservancies and even a national Game Park loomed large in relation to the pressure for land among the people in that Province. In the Midlands Province the Programme implementation process left intact some properties that exceeded maximum farm sizes. A review of this situation however would have to take into account land use patterns in the affected areas of the Province. It was noted that not much decongestion had taken place in the districts of Mberengwa and Zvishavane and that some people from these districts had had to seek accommodation in the neighbouring provinces of Matabeleland South and Masvingo. Further, a number of people from the two districts of Gokwe in the same province had been resettled, formally or informally, in Mashonaland West Province. In parts of Mashonaland West particularly the areas as adjacent to Harare and the western and north-western parts of the province, the resettlement process appeared to have taken place in a haphazard manner. In Mashonaland East the delisting of dairy farms gazetted for acquisition remained outstanding at the time of the compilation of this Report, despite request for such delisting by the PLIC. In Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and parts of Matabeleland North and South the pressure for land especially as regards the A2 model was particularly intense to the extent that further efforts will have to be put into the review and refinement of land allocations in these areas. The Committee recommends the following in addition to the recommendations captured under Paragraph 3 above:

    1. Measures be taken to decongest areas in a number of provinces including those mentioned above where pressure for land remains acute.

    2. Action be taken as soon as possible to regularise the situation regarding land which is held under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.

    3. A conclusive position be taken on the allocation of land subdivisions to which the LA3 forms were designed to apply. Representations were made by a number of white commercial farmers who had been served with Section 8 but who only had one farm or whose farm was claimed to fall under the agro-industrial category or who surrendered their other farm(s) to Government and had been allowed to make a choice of one farm or sub-division thereof to allow them to continue with farming. Many such persons expressed the view that as they satisfied criteria set by Government in its policy, they should have been allowed to continue farming operations on the property or subdivision in question. A similar view was also expressed by those whose farm or farms were gazetted without an option being given them to retain either one such farm or a subdivision thereof. These matters need to be addressed by Government conclusively and expeditiously to allow for productive use of the land and a sense of certainty about their future for the farmers concerned.

    4. There is need for a countrywide review of plots sizes allocated under the Al and A2 models to ensure consistency and compliance with policy guidelines.

    5. In regard to statutory maximum farm sizes, the Committee, while noting the rationale for these, recommends flexibility in the enforcement of the same taking into account land use patterns viability considerations and the existing infrastructure.

    6. All self-settled land occupiers in any part of the National 'Parks Estate should be removed and the protective game fences restored without further delay.

    7. Efforts be made in Mashonaland East in particular to delist the dairy farms which had been gazetted for acquisition, with a view to restoring viability in this crucial industry.

    8. The Committee urges deliberate and speedy action by Government to resolve with finality all allocation issues arising out of, or outstanding from, Programme implementation. Particular reference is made to the case of applicants for A2 plots whose names were published in newspapers as confirmation of their successfully meeting the criteria for land allocation. It had been indicated. by the allocating authority that all that remained was the allocation of plots but one and half years later, the applicants were still to be allocated such plots.

  6. Related to the above, the problem of uncertainty as to the place of pen-urban areas in the Land Reform Programme appeared to remain unresolved in the period of the Committee's assignment. It is urged that this uncertainty be removed as it has partly been responsible for the contests for land that the Committee observed or was informed about as its members visited the areas in question.

  7. Production in the resettled areas, while not computed statistically by the Committee, reflected appreciable performance especially under model Al. Beneficiaries made full use of the land allocated to them. In some areas yields realised in crops such as maize and tobacco were quite significant if not impressive. This was especially so given the poor rainfall patterns in the summer seasons covered by the Fast Track. However, a recurring theme in the producing areas was the need for timeous provision of adequate tillage services and inputs of all types.

    1. Inputs availability and affordability are fundamental to enhanced productivity. It is therefore imperative that practical steps be taken before the onset of the 2003-2004 cropping season to address the current shortages and exorbitant prices.

    2. It is imperative that Government proceed in a co-ordinated manner and with a streamlined implementation machinery cutting across relevant sector Ministries. It is important however that Government should seek to engender the ethos of pride and self reliance amongst the people. In this regard, assistance with inputs should be carefully targeted, such that it is based on definite criteria as to need.

    3. Apart from seed production and fertiliser manufacturing domestically including the exploitation of coal-bed methane resources for fertiliser production (especially ammonium nitrate), it is also critical that value addition to agricultural produce be undertaken as a matter of deliberate policy For example there is no plausible reason in the country exporting bulky cotton lint instead of weaving it to boost the textiles and clothing industry.

  8. Given the fact that the country is drought prone, the need for a water resource development strategy is compelling. As part of such development and having regard to the agricultural sectors needs, irrigation must be viewed as a national priority. Accordingly, it is imperative to evolve a set of policies that accord irrigation its appropriate place in the country's agriculture. It is equally imperative that governmental institutions involved in water resource development and irrigation be harmonised and streamlined to enhance the effectiveness of their overall impact on the transformation of the sector.

  9. The issue of enhanced agricultural production in both the resettled areas and the present communal lands is vital in the interest of both food security and the development of the economy as a whole. In this regard, the Committee has recommended under Part IV of Volume I and Volume II of this Report, a number of measures to be undertaken across the sub-sectors of agriculture which would, it is hoped, lead to such enhanced production. These recommendations cover in the first instance the need for comprehensive and systematic planning of future agricultural development having regard to the five pillars that appeared to the Committee to be critical for transformation in this regard, namely:

    Institutional Framework for Agricultural Service Provision;
    Human Capacity and Skills Development;
    Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer;
    Agricultural Inputs and Financial Services; and
    Domestic and International Markets for Agricultural Products.

    Details pertaining to the production of specific crops are also dealt with in the sections of the Report cited above.

    1. The financial and other resources required to achieve higher levels of production of various crops and other commodities will without doubt amount to massive orders of magnitude. While efforts should be directed to securing and deploying these resources self-reliantly within Government, the collaborative and coordinated participation of the local private sector should be tapped, and the assistance of friendly countries and other development partners sought as a vital complement to national initiatives.

    2. The setting up of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) out of the present AGRIBANK is long overdue. The new entity, namely, the ADB, should be adequately capitalised. Its sole, or at least pre-eminent, role in financing agriculture should be fully defined in its charter.

    3. There can be no alternative to the Programme's success. It is not possible to move forward without an investment of energy, imagination and material resources into the Programme. Neither stagnation nor regression can be contemplated. Well-targeted and adequate financing of agrarian transformation is therefore a key aspect of the entire Programme. Hence the issues of financing of the land and agrarian reform are taken up as crucial aspects of this Report under Part IV of Volume I and elsewhere under Volume II.

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