You will note that our news updates normally shun political topics. Unfortunately, we cannot let this one go for scholarly reasons. You see before our economy started going really downhill back in 1999, the economy was driven by two things:
- Gold exports and
- Agricultural production and exports
Over the years both sectors have been overrun by corruption. We have politically affiliated and highly connected gangs terrorising and depressing gold production. Even though we have some of the most plentiful platinum deposits they lie idle because foreign investors are shunning the sector which is controlled by the elite.
Corruption and incompetence has ruined agriculture
The President while chatting with Capitalk 100.4 FM on Friday night revealed some of the results from the ongoing land audit led by Justice Uchena:
The interim report I have is that I think, about eight provinces have been done they are left with some two or so provinces that have not been completed but the majority of inconsistencies relate to multiple ownership of farms.
We have some farm owners especially of higher rank in society having more than one farm, some having as many as nine.
I know of a particular lady, Stop It (Mrs Grace Mugabe) who has over 16 farms and the law says one family one farm. Once the audit is over we should be able to implement that policy.
This stunning revelation clearly shows one of the reasons why agricultural production is still depressed. Corruption by the elite who are still grabbing productive farms to this day. If you are in an area where this is happening it means you will hold off on capital investment projects and try not to produce much as this would draw attention to you.
The issue of land tenure and property rights has taken its toll on our economy. People are afraid of losing everything overnight to the political elite. Usually, there is no recourse as these people tend to be literary above the law.
Then there is the issue of the 99-year leases that the government gave to resettled farmers. These are cannot be used as collateral as the banks would need government approval to repossess land belonging to defaulters. Banks have shied away from accepting the leases as a result.
We also have the issue of incompetence. A lot of people benefited from the land reform program. A lot of them have zero experience and capital to talk of. As a result, most farms that used to be productive lie idle even now.
A persistent negative BOP
As a result of depressed exports and ballooning imports due to the closure of local industries because of the government’s other policies, we have never really recovered economically. Our economy has been dogged by a negative BOP for years. Eroding our infrastructure over time.
To learn more about agriculture in Zimbabwe go to the Geography notes
To learn more about BOP go to the Commerce Notes.