What a damp squib!

Official reports indicate that the process to audit farms allocated under the land reform programme that started in 2000 has begun with the Lands ministry revealing that it is going to replace the old offer letters with new ones.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

Basically, this entails giving the beneficiaries of the fast track land redistribution exercise new forms that the ministry says capture more details about the farmers. What a damp squib!

Clearly, everything is wrong with this way of starting the audit. An audit, in essence, is a process whose main objective is to take stock of how things were done, with the goal of improving systems and strategies. In the case of land allocation, the audit is supposed to look at who got what farm, how big it is, whether it is being utilised and whether allocations were done properly/transparently.

To start by replacing one faulty document with another and pretend that it is part of the audit is ridiculous. We do not understand how paper switching of this nature qualifies as an integral action in the process of auditing farmland that was taken away from commercial farmers with the purported intention of resettling and empowering land-hungry Zimbabweans.

If anything, this brings undesirable bureaucratic realities. We have been told that more than 300,000 households benefited under the fast track programme. That is clearly a huge number to deal with when giving the beneficiaries new offer letters. It is therefore going to take a long time to process the new forms.

In addition, a lot of money is required to carry out the replacement of the offer letters. Where is it going to come from and was it budgeted for in the first place? Is there enough manpower to carry out the exercise?

Considering that the main farming season is already underway, is this not going to negatively impact on farm preparations? Farmers would be required to leave their fields and converge at offices across the country. With the food shortages we are facing and have suffered for so many years, can we afford a glitch of this nature?

It seems to us that the decision to start with the replacement of offer letters is a mere diversion – meant to hoodwink people into thinking that something is happening. The reality is far away from that.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. Son of the soiled

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