President Robert Mugabe has fired warning shots on resettled farmers who are not using their land saying they could lose their farms if they are underutilising them and only using them as status symbols.
Mugabe’s warning comes barely two weeks after Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Shuvai Mahofa said Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi could not take over Barquest Farm because it was strategic to the province. The farm hosts the largest hatchery in the province.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko also stopped central intelligence organisation officer Rodney Mashingaidze from taking over Maleme Farm also because villagers had said it was productive.
Both farms are currently occupied by white farmers. Almost 4 000 farmers lost their land when Mugabe embarked on a wide-scale land reform programme to address the land imbalance in the country.
Mugabe said his government would soon be carrying out an audit to ensure that land is fully utilised.
“It is turning out now that quite a good many of those who got farms on the A2 system are not running them. The farms require huge capital and good management, they don’t have it, but they are a status symbol to many. ‘I am a farmer, I have a farm’, but what are you producing? That’s what we want to know, (not) to just have a farm where most of it is just pasture for cattle and you are not looking after the cattle, too,” Mugabe said.
A land audit was supposed to be carried out during the inclusive government but they never got down to it.
Besides, looking at underutilisation, people wanted an audit because there are reports that several people, especially government ministers and senior Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front officials, have more than one farm.