Professor Mushunje’s Inaugural lecture: " From land reform to food security in Zimbabwe: Lessons for South Africa"

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The University of Fort Hare keeps to an old universities’ tradition when it hosted a professorial  inaugural lecture for Abbyssinia  Mushunje from the Department  of Agricultural Economics & Extension, themed; “ From land reform to food security in Zimbabwe: Lessons for South Africa.


The lecture was held in front of enthusiastic audience mostly made up of students. Inaugural lectures are a “Must” or a “Tradition” to mark accomplishments of a university lecturer and recognition for scholarship.Mushunje was motivated by amongst other things by the President’s statement that “2017 is the year for radical economic transformation”, the Finance Minister’s declaration “to use national treasury to push for inclusive economic growth” and the situation of a 16 year old boy from North West province, Motlhamola Moshoeu.


He describes land as a scarce resource, a welfare determinant, land reform that involves the redistribution of land ownership and involves issues of productivity. He presented different scenarios between South Africa and Zimbabwe, the opponents and proponents of land reform. Amongst other things the opponents are occupied with issues of job losses, low utilization of land whilst the proponents are talking of large unused lands, farm workers who are not employed on full time basis.


The South African context cannot be outside the harsh 1913 land act, relegation of original owners of the land to 3rd class citizens, the 1994 land tenure, reforms and redistribution, an ambitious promise to cut landlessness by 30% within a period of five years but two decades later it remained a rhetoric. The Prof attributed the South African context to lack of support as compared to the old famers, the acquired land not being the best and farmers not being commercial.


In Zimbabwe after the Second Chimurenga, as from 1980 people without land decreased as reforms started, small holder farmers were capacitated. He argues that the principle of willing buyer willing seller was never workable in Zimbabwe. Only 71 000 families were resettled over a period of 20 years. In 2000 Zimbabwe abandoned the principle and adopted the radicalized Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) that increased the number of resettlement beneficiary families  to over 246 000.  From the FTLRP there were conflicts of land boundaries, lack of title deeds, cellphone farming whereas farming is a full time activity. Mushunje highlighted a few success stories within a Zimbabwean context as its land redistribution being the largest in the African context, 12- 18% of beneficiaries being women, reduced white owned farms, rehiring former farmers as farm managers (coexistence), agricultural production returning to that of the 1990’s, the Command Agriculture programme  and that white farmers  have accepted that reforms are not reversible.