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By 2009, the GoZ had acquired 10.8 million hectares of
land for the resettlement program out of a total of 12.3 million hectares of
commercial land (MLRR, 2009). The farms were classified as either A1 or A2
models. As alluded to by Byres (2004), it is arguable that in the Zimbabwe the
neo-populist framework applies to A1 model of farms that were distributed under
the fast track land reform program to many households. The A1 farms were small
farms of between 12 and 30 ha in size. The main purpose of the A1 scheme was to
decrease land pressure and decongest the communal areas as well as to provide
assets to the poor (GoZ 2001). As a result, 160,000 families benefited from the
A1 model. Prosterman and Riedinger (1987) and Moyo (1995a) all agree that, the
classifications were based on what seems to have been a rational arrangement
relating to equity and growth.

 

The Zimbabwean government adopted a neo-populist ideology
of dealing with the land reform program. According to Byres (2004), the
neo-populist framework tends to adopt a redistributive land reform that
transfers property rights to overcome inequality by expropriating land from
large land owners to redistribute to poor peasants. In July 2000, the GoZ
formally announced the FTLRP. The major aim of the program, was to acquire land
from white commercial farmers for redistribution to poor and middle-income
landless black Zimbabweans. Between June 2000 and February 2001, a total of
2,706 farms, covering more than 6 million hectares, were listed for compulsory
acquisition (MLRR, 2001). The overall objective of the FTLRP was said to be,
among other things, to acquire: “not less than 8.3 million hectares from the
large scale commercial farming sector for redistribution and to reduce the
large-scale commercial farms from an average of 2,200 ha to 500 ha or less,
thereby increasing the number of commercial farmers from 3,950 (Taylor, 2002)
to over 300,000. Allocations were made through offer letters, assigned by
ministers and other high-level officials.

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2.3
Fast Track Land Reform Program

 

The Lancaster House Agreement of 1980 marked the first effort to
distribute land more equitably. Under the agreement, the
new Zimbabwean government was not allowed to seize white-owned land for the
first 10 years into independence. To facilitate the agreement, the British
agreed to fund the land reform on a ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ model for
redistribution to the majority blacks. This phase did not yield much progress
as the uptake of ‘willing’ sellers was low. The exercise was halted when the
country’s constitution was changed in 1987 giving way to compulsory land
acquisition (Moyo, 1995). As a result, the number of resettled families by the
end of 1999 fell short of the 1980 target. During the 1990s, less than 1 million
hectares of land was acquired and fewer than 20,000 families were resettled. At
the same time, most of the land acquired during this time was of poor quality. According
Schleicher (2004), “only 19 percent of the almost 3.5 million hectares of
resettled land was considered prime, or farmable”. The situation fueled discontent within the landless
black majority. However, it is important to acknowledge
that white commercial farmers drove economic growth in the country. They employed
a third of the national workforce, and generated half of
Zimbabwe’s exports. Schleicher (2004) added that, they were recognized as
being among the most productive farmers in the world, holding world records in
yields and advanced conservation techniques.

2.2 The Lancaster House Agreement

 

 

In 1890, British colonialists led by Cecil John
Rhodes invaded present day Zimbabwe and displaced natives into the most
unfertile regions of the country. By 1923 the white settlers comprised 3% of
the population and yet controlled 75% of prime land. Black Zimbabweans occupied
23% of the most unfertile and economically unviable regions of the country. In
1930, the colonialists enacted the Land Apportionment Act. This law legalized
the separation of land between the indigenous blacks and settler whites. Under
this law, 50 000 white farmers received 49 million acres and 1.1 million
Africans were settled on 29 million acres in ‘Native Reserve Areas’. According
to Good
(2015), on 11 November 1965, Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Smith proclaimed the
Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from
Great Britain. Resultantly, Native Reserves Areas were renamed Tribal Trust
Lands. At this time, the native population had risen to 4.2 million, whilst the
white settlers were 210, 000. Suffice to say, the increased African population
was overcrowded in land meant for 1.1 million people.

2.1
Land Imbalance

 

According
to Mlambo and Zitsanza (2001), the agricultural sector plays an important role
in the development of the Zimbabwean economy, through its impact on the overall
economic growth, households’ income generation and food security. Prior to the
FTLRP, Zimbabwe’s agricultural landscape was dualistic; it comprised of large
and small scale-farmers. The largescale sector comprised about 4000 large scale
farmers who occupied 11 million hectares of land in predominantly fertile
areas. This cohort of farmers tilled the land using modern and sophisticated
production systems. On the other hand, communal and small-holder farmers occupied
areas of lower natural potential in agriculture in terms of rainfall, soils and
water for irrigation (Sithole, 1996). This
anomaly caused a fundamental problem
underpinning land distribution, successful rural development, equality and
poverty alleviation. As a result, the GoZ pursued various programs based on two
main strands of land reform policy; land restitution and land redistribution. Land
restitution was largely conceived as a means of addressing the colonial legacy
of land dispossession and land redistribution was mainly designed to create a
new class of black commercial farmers who would inherit existing white
commercial farms.

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