Zimbabwe land reform and the country’s current economic growth

January 27, 2013

International

Zimbabwe land reform and the country’s current economic growth
Zimbabwe land reform: Agriculture production back to the levels of the late 1990s More land is under cultivation than was worked by white farmers

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British press hails Zimbabwe land reform

Farms

The Herald (Zimbabwe)

HARARE- More Western academics, researchers and journalists, for long fierce critics of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, now acknowledge that agricultural production has massively increased as more

land is now under cultivation than when white farmers occupied it. According to a research by foreign analysts and published under the title “Zimbabwe takes back its land”, the land reforms have increased production on the land. Local agriculturalists and economic analysts welcomed the research saying it reflected the situation on the ground. Only 4 000 white farmers occupied vast tracts of fertile land while the majority Zimbabweans were settled on marginal infertile land.

However, an article in the British Guardian newspaper by Jonathan Steele, quoting the report, says Zimbabwe’s land reforms empowered the majority. Steele, who covered Zimbabwe’s elections in 2000 for the paper, quoted the report indicating the land redistribution had been successful contrary to foreign media claims. “Good news has just emerged from the country showing that the land occupations and evictions of white farmers by angry veterans of the liberation struggle that was the big Zimbabwe story a decade ago did not destroy the country’s agriculture, as so often claimed. “Far from it, production is now back to the levels of the late 1990s and more land is under cultivation than was worked by white farmers. “They say the introduction of the US dollar by the unity Government four years ago brought a quicker economic recovery and hence greater benefits for farm producers than anyone expected.” The researchers criticised Amnesty International for exaggerating the plight of farm workers. The researchers said the number of farm workers had increased more than five-fold, from 167 000 to over a million in 2011. “White farmers never used all the land they had taken.

In the years just before minority rule collapsed, in spite of generous Government subsidies, 30 percent of white farmers were insolvent and another 30 percent only broke even. Some 66 percent of arable land was lying fallow,” said Steele, quoting the report. He said after the redistribution in 2000, although some new African farmers reverted to subsistence agriculture, a growing number had moved into commercial farming.

Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice president Mr Garikai Msika hailed the report saying it exhibited the situation on the ground. “It can’t be disputed because if you look at the number of farmers since the land reform it has increased because we only had 4 000 before the reform but now we have more than 300 000,” said Mr Msika. He said despite financial challenges faced by farmers due to the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Britain, the European Union and the US, new farmers had managed to produce. “Tobacco and cotton output has increased significantly because the number of farmers has increased as well. “This has effects on the downstream line to other service providers. We could have done better if it wasn’t for the illegal sanctions considering that agriculture is the backbone of our economy,” said Mr Msika.

Agri-business development expert Mr Midway Bhunu said the land reform had resulted in the majority of landless Zimbabweans getting land. “What we can confirm in that report is that the land reform, besides addressing landholding imbalances, actually resulted in better utilisation of land. “There are, however, a number of issues that still need to be addressed for the reforms to be a major success. “There is need to support production by availing financial resources to the new farmers.

They also need training and development.” Mr Bhunu said farmers needed agriculture value chair support through market creation and development. Finance Minister Tendai Biti, whose MDC-T party has been colluding with former white commercial farmers in discrediting the land reform, has on several occasions acknowledged that production has been increasing over the years. He cited tobacco and maize as some of the crops whose yield has been growing.

The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday published a report indicating that President Mugabe was likely to win the next elections. It set its predictions on Zanu-PF policies on the land reforms and the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive. Last year, a report in The New York Times also acknowledged that land reforms have transformed the lives of previously disadvantaged Zimbabweans, particularly in the tobacco sector. The report said before land redistribution in 2000, fewer than 2 000 farmers were growing tobacco, the country’s most lucrative crop, and most were white.

Last year, 60 000 farmers grew tobacco, the vast majority of them black and many of them working small plots that were allotted to them during the distribution. “Most had no tobacco farming experience yet managed to produce a hefty crop, rebounding from a low of 105 million pounds in 2008 to more than 330 million pounds last year,” the report said. “The success of these small-scale farmers has led some experts to re-assess the legacy of Zimbabwe’s forced land redistribution, even as they condemn its violence and destruction.” Mr Ian Scoones, of Britain’s Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, who has been intensively studying land reform in Zimbabwe for the past decade, was quoted as saying: “We cannot make excuses for the way it (land reform) was carried out. “But there are many myths that have taken hold — that land reform has been an unmitigated disaster, that all the land has been taken over by cronies in the ruling party, that the whole thing has been a huge mess.

It has not.” Another British think tank, ENK Management Consultancy, last year said the Zimbabwean agriculture sector had huge potential to grow on the back of agrarian reforms implemented by Government over the last decade. ENK Management Consultancy Chief executive Emily Walker told New Ziana, on the sidelines of a Comesa farming workshop, that Zimbabwe had good agricultural policies and programmes in place, that would combine to sustain the current growth trajectory. Ms Walker said the relatively sound infrastructure and skills base would underpin long-term agricultural growth.

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January 23, 2013

Britain’s Mugabe-phobia has obscured the good news from Zimbabwe
With elections looming the media will resume their old crisis lines, ignoring the positive results of the land occupations

Jonathan Steele
The Guardian (UK)

Elections will be held in Zimbabwe later this year, leading with grim predictability to another bout of Mugabe-phobia in the British media. The trigger for the presidential and parliamentary poll was the deal struck last week between the 88-year-old president and the leader of the rival Movement for Democratic Change, the rime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, on a new constitution.

After months of wrangling the two men, who have been running the country in an uneasy coalition for the last four years, agreed on a text. It has not yet been published, so doubt remains on whether it reduces the president’s power in favour of parliament, as the MDC wanted. But whatever it contains, the document will have to be put to a referendum.

Then follow elections, and there are already strong hints that they could again be marked by violence. Mugabe seems determined to stand once more, admitting he is vulnerable but saying he will fight like “a wounded beast”. Meanwhile, a group of 58 civil organisations last week condemned what they called a “well-calculated and intensive” assault on human rights activists and journalists as voter registration gets under way.

As passions risk becoming inflamed again and the old battle positions resume in Britain’s media as well as Zimbabwe’s, the danger is that long-term trends get overlooked.

Good news has just emerged from Britain’s last former African colony that shows that the land occupations and evictions of white farmers by angry veterans of the liberation struggle that was the big Zimbabwe story of a decade ago did not destroy the country’s agriculture, as so often claimed. Far from it, production is now back to the levels of the late 1990s and more land is under cultivation than was worked by white farmers.

The evidence is contained in Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land, a book based on several research studies in various parts of the country. The authors look at Zimbabwe’s first land reform right after independence in 1980, which was not so fiercely contested, as well as the changes sparked by the veterans’ occupations in the late 1990s, which Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party originally ignored but later took over and turned into a political weapon.

The authors criticise Mugabe’s economic mismanagement, which led to hyperinflation between 2005 and 2008. It was not the land reform that caused hyperinflation, but bad economic decisions. They say the introduction of the US dollar by the unity government four years ago brought a quicker economic recovery and hence greater benefits for farm producers than anyone expected. They have the courage to criticise Amnesty International for exaggerating the plight of farm workers who were forced off formerly “white” land taken over by Africans, and say that by 2011 the number of people working on resettlement land had increased more than fivefold, from 167,000 to over a million.

They have a go at a prominent BBC report which, they say, fell for the myth of a cornucopia when white people ran most of commercial agriculture and a “black disaster” thereafter. White farmers never used all the land they had taken.

In the years just before minority rule collapsed, in spite of generous government subsidies, 30% of white farmers were insolvent and another 30% only broke even. Some 66% of arable land was lying fallow.

After the occupations in 2000, although some new African farmers reverted to subsistence agriculture, a growing number have been moving into commercial farming and there has even been a healthy return to the land by urban black people. In part this is because land is still highly prized in Zimbabwe and the desire to recover it was so crucial an element, ideologically and emotionally, in the struggle against white settlement. Indeed, the authors start their book with an arch reminder of an earlier generation of war veterans who evicted farmers and burnt their houses. They included the former Rhodesian white minority leader Ian Smith and other champions of white minority rule who got their economic start in life in 1945 by defining African farmers as squatters and throwing them – without compensation – off land that the foreign settlers’ government designated as the exclusive preserve of white people. “Regaining the land was central to the independence struggle in a way that was never the case in Mozambique and South Africa … Mozambique’s urbanised elite simply do not think of farming,” they write.

In spite of the progress of recent years the book argues that Zimbabwean farming still faces major challenges of investment shortages and training. It takes a generation for farmers to master their land and 10 years is too short a period to judge the complete success of the occupations. But the record is far better than the outside world gives credit for. While Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land focuses on a specific controversy, its challenge to conventional wisdom and stereotyping offers wider lessons. It is a reminder that crisis coverage, even when accurate, is only a part of what the media should be about. Follow-ups and reports on long-term trends are equally needed.

• Jonathan Steele covered Zimbabwe’s elections in 2000 for the Guardian. The Guardian in paper form has the 3rd largest circulation in the UK behind only the The Daily Telegraph and The Times.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/britain-mugabe-phobia-zimbabwe
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January 22, 2013
Video: Bloomberg News- Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai talks about the outlook for Zimbabwe’s new constitution and economy
Morgan Tsvangirai speaks with Bloomberg’s Andres R. Martinez at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland

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Video: SABC News- Zimbabwe ready to hold elections
Published on Jan 21, 2013

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Video: Story of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery
According to the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe’s economy is set to grow by 5.5% in 2013.
Part 1 of 2

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Video: Story of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery
Part 2 of 2

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Video: Zimbabwe Land Reform –  Ian Scoones dispels the myths of land reform BBC News 2011 interview

Ian Scoones is co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre at Sussex and joint convenor of the The Institute of Development Studies (IDS)-hosted Future Agricultures Consortium. He is an agricultural ecologist by original training whose interdisciplinary research links the natural and social sciences and focuses on the relationships between science and technology, local knowledge and livelihoods and the politics of policy processes in the context of international agricultural, environment and development issues.
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Video: Confrontation between a white Zimbabwean and a black Zimbabwean from the perspective of a white Zimbabwean 

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Video: Fomer white  Zimbabwean farmer Ben Freeth interviewed by the BBC News in 2011
A former farmer evicted from his farm in ZImbabwe gives an interview on the political change in Zimbabwe that President Mugabe brought about and the impact it had on people in Zimbabwe

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Video: Salisbury, Rhodesia
When Harare, Zimbabwe had apartheid

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Video: Rhodesia Independence Day 1965
Rhodesia apartheid ruled government broke away from British rule

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Video: From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe
The civil war for independence

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Video: Zimbabwe Independence 1980

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Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land

Publication Date: December 2012

About Dilemma X

Dilemma X, LLC provides research dedicated to the progression of economic development. Our services aid clients in enhancing overall production statistics. Please visit http://www.dilemma-x.com for more information

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