THE proposal by Zanu PF Matabeleland North official Clifford Sibanda that beneficiaries of the land reform programme should be cajoled to pay a token of appreciation exposes the sense of self entitlement that has blighted what is supposed to be a noble epoch in our history.
President Robert Mugabe and his party have struggled to convince the world that the seizure of white-owned commercial farms, which came at a great risk to Zimbabwe’s economy, was not motivated by narrow interests.
Zanu PF was accused of seizing the land so that it could re-oil its patronage system.
The land was given to people who hardly had any interest in farming just because they supported Zanu PF.
As a result of the partisan distribution of the seized farms, agriculture production has plummeted to a point that Zimbabwe cannot feed the majority of its population.
Mugabe himself has described some of his lieutenants who benefited from the programme as cellphone farmers because they prefer to stay in urban areas from where they direct their farming operations.
The consequences of such an approach to farming have been consecutive poor harvests because farming is a hands-on job.
The long and short of it is that the land reform programme has not resulted in better harvests largely because it was too politicised.
Most beneficiaries were given farms on the strength that the new farmers would prop Zanu PF both on the ballot box and financially.
This is certainly not the way things are supposed to be done.
Zanu PF needs to disabuse its officials of such thinking by being clear that the land reform programme was meant to benefit all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation.
Farmers who got pieces of land under this dispensation do not owe the party anything and should be left alone to do their work to feed the nation. Zanu PF, like any other political party in the country, is a voluntary organisation and should not be allowed to coerce any citizen to fund its operations.
Sibanda’s proposals should not be taken seriously if Zanu PF still wants to be respected.
The party should instead be sweating about the right policies to turn agriculture around instead of clamouring for a token of appreciation.