The Zimbabwean Land Commission (ZLC) has decided to audit thousands of farms belonging to indigenous farmers to assess whether they are underutilised and/or vacant. These farms were given to Zimbabwean farmers through its land reform programme.
The ZLC hopes to have inspected at least 300 000 farms by the end of 2022. Called the Comprehensive National Agricultural Land Audit, the exercise is currently in its final phase, which entails making public the names of those leasing farms without approval and those who own numerous underutilised farms.
The audit has been ongoing since 2018, and in 2020, Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa demanded that the process be sped up so government would have more available information on which farms can be redistributed.
In January 2022, Zimbabwe’s agricultural minister Dr Anxious Masuka said that unproductive farm owners should create partnerships in order to boost agricultural productivity, as well as reduce the country’s import bill. According to Bloomberg, Masuka stated that the joint ventures would require government approval and that a database would be created to match landowners with potential investors.
In 2000, Zimbabwe’s government led by the late president Robert Mugabe, was under increasing pressure to improve the lives of citizens, therefore it seized properties from mostly white commercial farmers and redistributed them to black farmers.
Zimbabwe has become a net importer of food as a result of the land seizures. The yield of essential crops such as corn and tobacco, the country’s main cash crop, has decreased. Following the expropriation of the farms, a number of Western countries imposed sanctions, resulting in international isolation as well as food and foreign currency shortages.
The government had set the deadline for all A1 and A2 farmers to submit their yearly farm output reports on February 15th, in the hopes of identifying underutilised property.