HARARE – There is a great misconception, especially by those lording over us, to trivialise the contribution of the last remaining white commercial farmers to the development of this country.
Clearly, government’s new farmers have dismally failed to rise to the challenge and return this nation to its former status as a surplus food producer.
Elsewhere in this edition, we report on the continuing drive to disrupt the last vestiges of commercial agriculture. Fifteen white farmers have been served with Section 8 notices to vacate their properties. This is 15 years after the advent of land reform.
When will we wrap up this programme, gentleman?
Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora has listed 15 white-owned farms for seizure. Unrepentant for his drive to redress historical injustices over the land issue, President Robert Mugabe has said blacks had gone to war for independence and to reclaim their land from whites.
We agree with him, but it is clear that the resettled farmers have failed to render contribution to the commercial farming sector that has managed to feed this nation adequately.
With very little or no training, they have not mastered realities of agricultural production over and above the major problem that the new farmers face, that of lack of access to capital because they have no security of tenure.
Government’s decision to evict the last remaining white farmers will have far-reaching implications. It is possible Zimbabwe will face a worse food crisis for several years before productivity can peak to the pre-2000 levels.
We risk being stuck in a food production deficit mode — all because someone is pursuing a misguided agenda. The seizures have continued even as government is fully aware its brave new settlers are unable to produce food in meaningful quantities. If we continue on this path, Zimbabwe could be in a chronic crisis, especially given this El Nino phenomenon.
The effect will translate into worse food scarcities. If the government is anxious to raise the status of indigenous players in the agricultural sector, it can easily do so without evicting the last vestiges of white farmers from their properties.
Placing greater emphasis on the government’s brave new farmers, while allowing the commercial farmers space to continue their activities would have only helped transform this country into a major agricultural powerhouse. The one lesson that can be drawn from history is the incapacity of nations to learn from their mistakes.
Samora Machel, the late Mozambican president, and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin made such serious miscalculations, and their countries paid heavily. The political leadership in this country appears determined to drag Zimbabwe down that dark path.
Could this be a deliberate ploy to impoverish this nation and impose hunger, so that except for the ruling elite, the majority of the inhabitants will be preoccupied with issues of survival and in the process ensure the safety of the governing elite?