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War Vets to Block Land Audit

ZIMBABWE’S liberation war veterans plan to block the land audit to be carried out by government over the next two years, arguing that the process was a witch-hunt targeting senior Zanu PF officials and beneficiaries of the widely criticised land reform programme.

War veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba this week questioned the motive behind the land audit, which he said is being pushed for by the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Chinotimba warned government that going ahead with the land audit would anger the country’s freedom fighters, who threatened to embark on riots worse than what the country experienced during land invasions of 2000.

Despite reassurances by Lands minister Hebert Murerwa that farmers would not lose their land, Chinotimba said war veterans still fear that the audit would result in many resettled farmers losing their pieces of land.

Chinotimba on Wednesday told the Zimbabwe Independent: “I don’t have a problem with one-man-one-farm policy. My problem is why do they want to do it now? This audit is for Chinotimba and so on. I have a problem with that. A land audit is not a priority at the moment. As a leader of war vets, I say no to the land audit.

“We should do the constitution first and even if they do it after the constitution, I won’t be able to control the war vets and I just don’t know what will happen.”

Pressed to explain what he meant by saying he would not be able to control his members, Chinotimba said: “No one can control war vets when they are angry. Why do they want to take them back and remember the past? Do you know what it feels like to face death? Wakambotarisana nerufu here iwewe.

Uchimhanya wakadai, bara rakakunanga, wakatarisana nerufu. Ngavasatambe kudai nevakomana (Have you ever faced death and come face to face with a bullet. They should not provoke war vets like this.)”.

Chinotimba said the US$31 million allocated for the land audit should be used for productive ventures like buying agricultural inputs for the farmers.

“Why put money there when civil servants don’t have money and hospitals have no medicines. It is not a priority, they should use that money for agriculture,” he said.

However, Murerwa said the land audit was expected to assist government to come up with policies and programmes that help farmers enhance production on their pieces of land.

According to Murerwa, the audit would assess activities on the ground, land uptake, production levels, availability of water sources and other related issues.

Minister of State in Tsvangirai’s office Gorden Moyo said the land audit would provide a framework for the evolution of a national land policy and halt farm takeovers.

He said cabinet decided to go ahead with a land audit after reviewing a report from a fact-finding mission of ministers and other officials that visited farms which have been invaded.

Although the September 2008 global political agreement between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations provides for a national land audit to be carried out, Zanu PF officials in Mashonaland West have said government could not carry out a land audit until Western sanctions against top Zanu PF officials including President Robert Mugabe were lifted.

Mashonaland West secretary for lands Themba Mliswa said such an audit would hinder black empowerment and reverse the gains of land reform in Zimbabwe.


Faith Zaba

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