Officials forced to implement "one man, one farm"

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has ordered top ruling party officials with multiple farms to relinquish all but one within two weeks, the official The Herald newspaper reported on Thursday.

"President Mugabe said he would not allow people to have more than one farm. He advised those with multiple farms to choose one and give up the rest to the government for resettlement," ZANU-PF secretary for information and publicity, Nathan Shamuyarira, was quoted as saying.

Mugabe made the announcement at a politburo meeting on Wednesday.

The government's land redistribution programme was based on a "one man, one farm" policy. Mounting grassroots criticism last year that the principles of land reform were being flouted by senior party officials led the government to commission a national audit through the office of Vice-President Joseph Msika.

The interim report allegedly noted evidence of corrupt allocations and the use of violence by senior politicians and military officers to evict landless small farmers - the very people land reform was intended to help.

In April Mugabe appointed a Presidential Land Review Committee, chaired by former cabinet secretary Charles Utete, to assess progress in the implementation of the land reform programme, The Herald reported.

The committee's interim report indicated that a number of people in the party's top hierarchy had multiple farms. A complete report, due to have been released in June, is expected to be ready by mid-August, the newspaper said.

Under Zimbabwe's fast-track land reform the government seized more than 10 million hectares of commercial land for redistribution. The programme has led to a significant downturn in agricultural production, and cost the jobs of an estimated 240,000 commercial farm workers.

Utete's committee is expected to gauge the productive capacity of the country's 300,000 resettled farmers and agree on measures necessary to ensure targeted production for each province, The Herald said.

For more details see Land reform beneficiaries under scrutiny