Agriculture is taking centre stage in plans for the revival of Zimbabwe’s ailing economy under the new leadership of Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Getting agriculture moving in Zimbabwe is a big task. The radical land reform of 2000 has left many outstanding challenges; not least the importance of compensating former farm owners. But the biggest challenge is that, with new ownership patterns, the agricultural sector has a much more diffuse base. Today there are many small to medium sized farms, rather than a few major players.
This has implications for what Mnangagwa does next. What are the top priorities for agriculture, and what can be learnt from the challenges faced since the land reform?
Research we’ve done over the past 18 years provides some useful pointers. We have been tracking what has happened to land reform farms across Zimbabwe, with sites in Masvingo (in the dry south-east), in Mvurwi (north of Harare) and in Matobo (in Matabeleland). We have been looking at both smallholder production (in so-called A1 areas) and medium-scale commercial farms (so-called A2 allocations), as well as outgrower arrangements in lowveld sugar estates.
The results have been surprising. Despite the woeful lack of support, the smallholders have done reasonably well. Most are producing surpluses and reinvesting in their farms. Around two thirds have produced more food than just for subsistence in nearly all years that we’ve conducted the research. In Mvurwi, tobacco dominates, and the smallholder-led tobacco boom has brought significant investment, both on and off-farm.
For their part larger landholdings have struggled. Lack of finance capital for many has meant they have not got off the ground and some have significant areas of under-utilised land, with infrastructure in disrepair.
The exceptions are those operating under contract arrangements with estates. These farmers have done relatively well because they’ve been supported and finance has been guaranteed. New contracting and joint venture arrangements are emerging in some areas, but much more needs to be done.
Ten priorities for agricultural development
Drawing on this experience, below I suggest ten priorities for getting agriculture moving once the first tasks of paying compensation, undertaking a land audit and establishing an efficient land administration system are complete.
Land tenure security should be assured through issuing 99-year leases for larger land reform farms and permits for smaller farms. This should be complemented by clear regulations to avoid land concentration and to facilitate women’s access to land. This can be achieved through a multiform tenure system based on trusted, secure property relations.
Getting private bank finance flowing is essential. Bankable leases will help, as will the acceptance of a range of forms of collateral by finance institutions. State assurances and the building of trust will be key.
Partnerships and joint ventures will be significant for some larger farms and certain crops, where external finance and expertise are essential. Already Chinese involvement in tobacco production is proving to be important. Opening opportunities for the return of highly skilled former white farmers will be significant too. Regulations to ensure such partnerships are truly joint and involve the transfer of skills are vital.
Government loans for agriculture are currently offered through the “command agriculture” programme. Focusing on larger farms with irrigation infrastructure, it has shown some success in the past season. But such programmes should not be abused for political ends. And it’s essential that loans are fully repaid.
Access to markets
Linking diverse producers to markets is essential. Too often smallholders get poor value for their products, but ensuring local content purchasing by supermarkets, reduced red tape and support for investment in transport infrastructure will help. Already the reduction in market transaction costs through the removal of many police roadblocks has had a massive, positive impact, as fewer bribes have to be paid.
The country must work on developing value-added activity around the agricultural sector. Local processing and packaging would ensure employment along the value chain. And preservation, processing and selling to niche markets could offset risks, such as a glut in horticultural products.
Smart support systems
Extension advice and market support through IT applications is increasingly feasible, given growing connectivity and the wide ownership of smartphones. This means farmers can be offered more attuned and useful advice. A wholesale rethink of agricultural extension and support services is therefore required.
Irrigation is essential to boost production in dryland areas, especially given the increased variability in rainfall patterns due to climate change. But this should not involve expensive, large-scale schemes. Instead they should be focused on supporting farmer-led irrigation, using small pumps and pipes bought locally. External intervention should be focused on improving water use efficiency and management.
Appropriate mechanisation is another priority. Again this shouldn’t be focused on the large-scale options of the past. Small-scale mechanisation, such as two-wheeled tractors and motorbike-drawn trailers may be more appropriate and affordable, and less subject to patronage, than large tractors and combines. For larger equipment, cooperative arrangements or private hire schemes could work, supported by online infrastructure and training.
Local economic development
Agricultural development needs to be seen as part of local economic development. It must be integrated into wider planning and investment frameworks at a district level, with new farms of varying sizes linked to small towns near land reform areas, where new employment and service provision opportunities open up.
These ten suggestions together could make a big difference, both to the economy and to farmers’ livelihoods across the country. Let’s hope that President Mnangagwa’s commitment to agricultural development is translated into action - and soon.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government was ready to seize and redistribute tracts of idle farmland mostly owned by his top Zanu PF allies.
This follows a land audit which unearthed multiple farm ownership by influential officials in violation of the one-man-one-farm policy by government.
"The land reform program is done and dusted," Mnangagwa said while addressing some traditional leaders in Kadoma on Monday. "As government, we have embarked on a land commission audit. The audit has unearthed that most of the bigwigs have more than one farm."
To address the anomaly, President Mnangagwa said government was going ahead with plans to repossess the farms for redistribution to other Zimbabweans who did not benefit from the country's controversial land reform process in the past 18 years. Mnangagwa also said his government would also move to downsize some of the farms considered too big.
"The preliminary reports have shown us that most senior officials within the party (Zanu PF) have more than one farm.
"As government, we are going to address the anomaly. We are going to repossess those farms and redistribute them. We are going to downsize on some of the farms.
"There are some individuals, very influential, whom we cannot name who have more than one farm and we are going after them," he said.
The Zanu PF led government, then under the now former President Robert Mugabe, in 2000 embarked on a violent land reform process which saw militant war veterans storm white owned farms and grabbing implements, livestock and farm houses.
The chaotic exercise saw some locals allocated pieces of land to both build homes and to fend for their families. Some influential government officials and security bosses used their stamina to grab bigger and more fertile pieces of land with rich infrastructure while some even went for more than a single farm. Although he led the one-man-one-farm mantra, then Mugabe was this year said to be owner of 21 farms, some of which he secretly leased to white farmers.
However, other reports linked the once feared leader to a total 13 farms under his and family ownership.
"I am still receiving evidence of what the (former) first family had. When that process is complete they will select one farm and the rest will be given elsewhere," Mnangagwa told the Independent Foreign Service in a wide-ranging interview August this year.
"It's not a question of voluntary giving up, but about complying with the policy."
Mnangagwa, who is often regarded as a reformist, has refused to return land into the hands of its former white owners saying the land reform process was "irreversible".
Credit: New Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday laid the foundation stone for huge new parliament to be built with Chinese funds outside the capital Harare.
The imposing circular complex will be built over 32 months by the Shanghai Construction group at Mount Hampden, 18 kilometres north-west of Harare, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported. Officials say the current colonial-era parliamentary building in the city centre is too small to accommodate lawmakers.
Mnangagwa said at the ceremony that China had provided a "grant, not a loan, to build a new parliament", without giving a figure.
"Other facilities like banks, hotels will be built around this place," Mnangagwa said adding that a "modern, smart city" was planned.
Mnangagwa took over from long-time ruler Robert Mugabe who was ousted by the military in November 2017.
He has vowed to revive Zimbabwe's economy that has been in ruins for nearly two decades.
China has funded and provided loans for many infrastructure projects across Africa in recent years, ranging from roads and power plants to sports stadiums and government institutions.
Critics say China's increasing sway over the continent undermines democracy and sovereignty.
Econet group founder and executive chairman Strive Masiyiwa has found himself at the centre of a social media storm after appearing to back President Emmerson Mnangagwa and calling for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Masiyiwa recently told continental broadcaster CNBC Africa that Western sanctions against Harare, now in place for some 20 years, should be lifted, noting that the country could not move forward with its hands shackled behind its back.
Further, he suggested that, President Mnangagwa was sincere in his much-touted efforts to open up the democratic space Zimbabwe and turn around the country's stricken economy.
Mnangagwa assumed leadership of the country after a military coup last November and strengthened his hold on power in bitterly disputed circumstances in the July 30 elections.
After the vote the military moved into central Harare to beat back opposition protestors and six people lost their lives in the resultant clashes.
Masiyiwa's apparent backing for Mnangagwa was therefore certain to anger the opposition, and it did.
Commenting on Twitter, MDC politician and former education minister David Colart challenged the self-exiled tycoon to return home if he was so confident about Mnangagwa's regime.
Masiyiwa has not returned to Zimbabwe in close to 20 years after being hounded out by the former Robert Mugabe regime.
Former high education minister Jonathan Moyo - also a political exile - was also unimpressed, telling Masiyiwa to "must shut up if he does not want people to disagree with him!"
Masiyiwa took to his preferred Facebook platform to hit back, saying the sanctions had adversely impacted his companies' ability to raise funding through international loans.
He added; "Intimidation and threats have never affected me.
"I stood up to Mugabe when most of those issuing threats by Twitter were either in diapers, or hiding, or even simply minding their own business."
Source: New Zimbabwe
Harare City Council and its parking unit, City Parking, have embarked on a $2 million programme of installing surveillance cameras at traffic lights in the central business district (CBD) to deal with congestion and traffic offenders. The cameras will help identify traffic offenders, especially those who impede the smooth flow of traffic.
It is also envisaged that the cameras will assist police in identifying those who commit various crimes in the CBD. City Parking, which has been financing the marking of roads and parking bays, will also adopt Julius Nyerere Way with a view of beautifying it.
In an interview during a tour of some of the roads, which were being marked, Harare chief engineer of works George Munyonga said the installation of the gadgets was 70 percent complete.
"This programme which we are undertaking of marking the road signs and beautifying the streets is a first step of the project that we are working on with City Parking. We are going to be installing monitoring and enforcement cameras at all intersections and along all routes so that any traffic violations, which are to the detriment of good traffic movement, will be dealt with," he said.
"Controllers will just ticket offenders. On the installation process we are around 70 percent and it will be monitored in a control room at the Harare Parkade so all roads within the central business district will be monitored.
"All intersections within the CBD will be monitored. All parking spaces within the CBD will be monitored."
He said they were targeting to recoup their $2 million investment from traffic offenders within a year.
Eng Munyonga said City Parking was in the process of equipping the control room, putting up the servers and the next phase, which constitutes 10 percent, would involve the mounting of the cameras and making sure the traffic system is linked to the technology.
"We would also want to link the system with Zinara and Central vehicle Registry so that we can follow up on those issued with tickets," he said.
City Parking marketing manager Mr Francis Mandaza said the initiative was part of the Mayors' 100-day plan.
"We are embarking on massive road markings. We are doing both lane marking and bay marking.
"We have started with Julius Nyerere Way. We are going to Cameron Street and from there we will go to Chinhoyi Street and Mbuya Nehanda Street. These efforts are meant to try to contribute to the success of the Mayors 100 Day plan," he said.
"Apart from the road markings, we have also adopted Julius Nyerere Island from Second Street down to Kenneth Kaunda for beatification."
The City and City parking are using thermoplastic paint, which is more durable.
Credit: The Herald
The Zimbabwe government has with immediate effect partially suspended regulations banning imports to allow the general public to bring in goods without licenses in abid to address the shortages of basic commodities and ease pressure on demand for foreign currency on the central bank.
The southern African country is in the throes of a dollar shortages while the move to seperate United States dollar denominated accounts from locally funded accounts led to an increase in foreign currency demand in the black market and a spike in prices.
In 2016, the government banned a range of products from the import list to protect the local industry under SI64, which was later replaced by the SI122 of 2017. The ban is seen hitting the local manufacturers hard, despite government maintaining duty on the imports.
Among the 31 commodities which can now be imported without licenses and limit on quantities into the country is cement, bottled water, sugar, flour, coffee creamers, fertilizers,
cooking oil, body creams, crude soya bean oil, animal oils, cereals, packaging materials, cheese and pizza base.
Addressing a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the partial lifting of the ban was meant to ensure availability of of basic commodities ahead of the festive season and ease demand on foreign currency.
“Accordingly as a way forward, Cabinet resolved .. that the minister of Industry and Commerce temporarily amends Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017 to allow both companies and individuals with offshore funds and free funds to import specified basic commodities currently in short supply pending the return to normalcy in buying patterns of the public and adequate restocking by manufacturers,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said anyone with free funds could import the goods.
The SI 64 has helped the country save $2 billion according to reports.
- The Source
The World Bank and IMF have endorsed Zimbabwe’s plan to clear more than $2 billion in foreign arrears, the finance minister said, adding that the lenders had also backed his two-year economic recovery programme.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to revive the struggling economy, pay foreign debts that the country has defaulted on since 1999 and end Zimbabwe’s international pariah status gained under Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, who is attending the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings in Bali, Indonesia, said in a statement his plans to clear the arrears to the World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank had been accepted.
“All the cooperating partners and creditors present uniformly expressed their support for Zimbabwe and its arrears clearance Road Map,” Ncube said. He did not give details and none of the creditors had an immediate comment.
The lenders and Western donors urged Ncube to “judiciously” implement his two-year economic recovery programme announced last Friday, the statement said.
Ncube’s plan will see cuts in government spending and its wage bill, and privatisation of loss-making state-owned firms.
Zimbabwe, which adopted the U.S. dollar after hyperinflation left its own currency worthless in 2009, is gripped by acute shortages of cash dollars. Prices of basic goods and medicines have risen in the last few days.
At the heart of its economic problems is a $17 billion domestic and foreign debt, a $1.8 billion trade deficit that has worsened dollar shortages and lack of confidence in the ruling party by citizens still traumatised by hyperinflation.
Prices of basic goods, medicines and drugs, building materials and public taxis have risen by at least 50 percent in the last week.
The economic crunch is increasing political tension after a July vote that was supposed to lay the foundation for Zimbabwe’s recovery was instead followed by turmoil that left six people dead after an army crackdown.
The latest crisis was triggered by fiscal and monetary changes announced on Oct. 1, including a 2 percent tax on money transfers and separation of cash dollars and foreign inflows from bond notes and electronic dollars, that caused the collapse of the surrogate currency on the black market.
When the changes were announced, $100 in bond notes was worth $49 cash dollars but was worth only $26 on Wednesday.
In a separate statement, Ncube said the bond note and electronic dollars would remain officially pegged at 1:1 to the U.S. dollar as the government seeks to protect people’s savings.
He said the government would also gazette rules protecting foreign dollar inflows to ensure the money was not taken by the central bank or government, good news for mines outraged by the U.S. dollar shortages.
On Wednesday, some shops and restaurants, including the local franchise of fast-food chain KFC had closed their outlets because some suppliers of goods and medicines were demanding cash dollars. – Reuters
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube says the government is committed to preserving the value of electronic balances at the current rate of exchange of 1 to 1, in order “to protect people’s savings.”
“Government recognise concerns surrounding RTGS deposits, and we commit to preserve the value of these balances on the current rate of exchange of 1 to 1, in order to protect people’s savings,” Ncube said in a statement on Wednesday after some business started demanding payment in US dollars only while some retailers have suspended sales as the value of the electronic dollars and the surrogate bond note currency have plunged on the black market.
Zimbabwe abandoned its hyperinflation ravaged currency in 2009 and adopted a basket of multi-currencies anchored on the US dollar, but gripped by acute shortages of cash dollars since 2016.
Last week, the central bank brought back foreign currency accounts (FCAs) to separate local electronic transfers and foreign inflows and US dollars, leading to a panic in the market.
Ncube said there was a “need for an orderly currency reform programme that will be followed when the economic fundamentals” and that the multi-currency system will continue.
“This system entails that foreign exchange earners are not prejudiced of their regulatory foreign exchange receipts and that those who do not earn foreign exchange have access to foreign exchange through the banking system as is per the current policy of foreign exchange management system. In parallel, the Reserve Bank shall continue to maintain adequate resources for the import of essential commodities,” he said.
He said apart from the $500 million Nostro Deposit Protection Guarantee from Afreximbank, he was also “reinforcing Nostro foreign currency accounts with a statutory instrument to guarantee that these are private deposits, and neither the Reserve Bank nor government has any access to them.”
- The Source
United Arab Emirates-based global satellite operator, Yahsat on Monday launched its flagship satellite broadband service YahClick in partnership local ISP, Dandemutande in a move that could lower prices of data by as much as 70 percent.
The cost of data is an emotive issue in the region, notably in Zimbabwe and South Africa where it sparked off the #DataMustFall.
A recent report by Ecobank showed that Zimbabwe has the second most expensive mobile data in sub-Saharan Africa after Equatorial Guinea at $25 for one gigabyte
Yahsat is a subsidiary of Mubadala, the investment vehicle of the United Arab Emirates government and already operates in most African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Angola and Zambia.
Kevin Viret, Yasat’s director business development for Africa said, with internet penetration still at 52 percent, Zimbabwe had potential for growth
“We have 50 percent more power than the traditional satellite. The African continent doesn’t suffer from the lack of broadband or internet connectivity but it suffers from lack of a quality service that’s reliable and cost effective,” he said.
YahClick uses the Ka-band powered by high throughput satellite spot beam technology on which Yahsat rides on to provide high performance broadband.
Viret said the company’s technologies will allow the country to enjoy fast internet at affordable rates.
Dandemutande chief executive, Never Ncube said the cheapest package has been pegged at $33 for 5 gig of data.
- The Source