HARARE – Captains of industry have called on government to issue title deeds to farmers resettled during the land reform programme.
Presenting oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Industry and Commerce, Brains Muchemwa, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) macroeconomics committee chairperson, said government had to correct the perception in the international community that there was no respect for property rights in Zimbabwe by giving farmers title deeds.
“We have issues of expropriation of property and we need to set the record straight that we are not seizing land and build confidence and address the issue at a national level,” Muchemwa said.
“Our land reform has been completed and the farmers need title deeds to show to the world that we are not going to take away their land. This will build confidence to the investors we need in the country.
“Lack of confidence from farmers is one of the major problem that is affecting us as a country as the issue of property rights has to be fully dealt with so that the investors will know that their rights are not going to be violated.”
Muchemwa warned that industry was on the verge of collapse and needed financial support to stimulate revival.
He was supported by ZNCC president Hlanganiso Matangaidze and his deputy Davison Norupiri.
Zanu PF MP Ray Kaukonde and chairperson of the committee said the issue of investor confidence had to be addressed fully.
“There is a lot of wrong perception on the country, which is driving away investors,” Kaukonde said. “We must build confidence in the country so that we can revive our industries together.
“Our farmers need to be secured in the farms as farming is creating a lot of employment.”
Prior to the land invasions, white-owned farms produced half of Zimbabwe’s staple food, maize; most other crops such as soya and wheat, and the biggest foreign exchange earner, tobacco. They also provided jobs, schools and medical care for 700 000 black farm workers and their families.
Currently, because of the continuing land grab, banks want guarantees that farmers will continue to own their land and harvest crops unhindered. Banks have also rejected the 99-year leases issued by government to 100 farmers as collateral.
President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF claims, with some justification, that his land grab is correcting a historical land ownership injustice, one that afflicts many former African colonies.
Whites, who formed two percent of the population, owned a third of the arable land before the advent of the land grab. It is up to Britain to compensate the descendants of its former settlers, Mugabe says, since his government does not have the money.