Transparency crucial on land reform program; US Ambassador

Politically motivated dispossession and retaliation create conflict and not empowerment, the United States of America Ambassador to Zimbabwe has said.

Ambassador Charles Ray said this on a tour of Chakona- Muunganirwa Irrigation Scheme in Bindura where he was accessing progress on a livelihoods restoration program funded by United States Agency International Development (USAID) through Africare and Zambuko Trust initiated in 2009.

He said the US strongly opposes the violence and displacement through which the land reform was achieved.

“The US does not oppose the general aim of the land reform program, which is to economically empower people by helping them to build better lives through jobs, income generation, self-reliance, dignity and opportunity,” he said.

Ambassador Charles Ray said the land reform program is still necessary in Zimbabwe because huge tracts of the country’s farmland are not being utilized.

“The US recognises that land reform was necessary for Zimbabwe to achieve the human dignity that people fought for, but society should shift from focusing on revenge and build a better future,” said Ray.

“Far too many Zimbabweans, black, white and in between lack opportunities to make the most of their talents, ideas and ambitions because there is too much land that is lying fallow,” he said.

He said there is need for the administrators of land to be transparent and more flexible in executing their duties.

“The administration of land should be more transparent and flexible so as to create greater efficiency and more production on the farms,” said Ray.

He urged people who can make good use of the land to do so for the betterment of their livelihoods.

“Through this program, over 5,000 families in Bindura and Guruve districts have become more productive and increased their incomes. This means that over 20,000 people in this area are better off and thousands of children are able to stay in school.”

Mashonaland Livelihoods Restoration Programme was initiated in 2009 with the objective of addressing food and income security of the targeted farmers through enhanced agricultural productivity, income generation and employment creation.

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