Monday, 2 February 2015

War vets are exasperated by land reform – Report

Despite spearheading the fast track land redistribution exercise, war veterans still face challenges in producing from the plots they acquired under the programme.

This emerged in a January 2015 pilot study carried out by the Zimbabwe Liberation Platform (ZLP) on the impact of the fast track programme on war veterans’ livelihoods.

From 2000, the war veterans led militia onto farms owned by white commercial farmers and forcefully removed around 5,000 of them under the guise of resettling land-hungry Zimbabweans.

The study that was carried out around Masvingo found out that war veterans were underutilizing the land they received, with only 18 percent of the farmland being put to use.
War vets are exasperated by land reform – Report
War vets are exasperated by land reform – Report
According to the study report, the war veterans in Masvingo mostly used their hectarage for maize and sugar production and owned an insignificant number of cattle.

The ZLP said the underutilisation of the land was due to a variety of factors, among them poor support from government.

“The current small-scale farmers face a host of difficulties in farming. Most respondents talked of lack of support from government…and difficulties in securing inputs and commodities needed.

“The gains that have been made by new farmers have been done so with almost no support from the state or government, and the war veterans in this study attest to this situation. Yet it is also clear that the majority of the sample found farming very difficult and securing livelihood problematic,” reads the report.

Because of a combination of physical factors such as aridity and difficulties in tilling the land, 60 percent of the farmers attested to being food insecure.

Forty percent of them relied on pensions and remittances for survival.

Because of this, 40 percent of the war veterans in Masvingo felt that the land reform programme was unsuccessful.

“(45 percent of the) respondents also stated that if offered alternative forms of livelihood, other than farming, that they would take that opportunity and leave the farm,” added the report.

The study indicates that the affected war veterans are frustrated with the land reform exercise.

“A number of the war veterans interviewed in Masvingo stated that they had invested all of their income and spare capital in the farm, and that, even if they wanted to leave, they had no resources to do so. In essence, they felt trapped on the land they occupied with little hope of making it productive,” said ZLP.
This frustration and disillusionment, said the platform, was shared by a large population of Zimbabweans in South Africa and other neighbouring countries who would rather find other means of subsistence than though farming.

“What these tentative findings point to is that there are current beneficiaries of land reform who are not particularly happy on the land and are looking for alternative forms of livelihood. Such admissions have interesting policy implications.

“For example, if the state was to offer these people some return for the land they currently occupy, and these packages were accepted, land could be made available for others to farm or lease, be they commercial entities or other land hungry populations, rural or urban,” said ZLP.

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