09 September 1998
Zimbabwe land reform falters

ZIMBABWES plans to redistribute farming land from a few large commercial organisations to many more black farmers is running into problems, reports the Financial Times.

Zimbabwe has more than 1 million households, or 5.6m people, crowded into 1.6m hectares (3.9m acres). But there are 5000 large-scale commercial organisations covering 10m hectares (24.7m acres) which support only 1.3m people.

The Government set out a land programme to resettle 162,500 families over three years soon after independence in 1980. But 13 years later just 56,000 families had been resettled.

Finance has proved a problem, as has the administrative capacity to resettle people with the appropriate back-up.

Zimbabwe has looked to the “donor” community to provide most of the money. It had been hoping to raise Z$42 billion (£1bn) to carry out the transfer. Some 60% of this – or more than £600m – would have come from donors.

The Government is to contribute more than a third (£360m) while the balance of £36m would come from the beneficiaries.

Late last year, 1471 commercial farms were listed for compulsory acquisition. A public outcry saw 600 of these farms subsequently de-listed.

There are doubts about the ability of the system to cope with this rate of transfer.