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The Land Reform Deception – Before and After Farm Seizures

Agricultural production dramatically declined after farms were seized by farm invaders. There are several reasons for this decline, from asset stripping, to lack of investment capital, to lack of farming expertise among claimants.

The following photographs are intended to provide before and after perspectives of the same piece of land in Mashonaland Central. The first photograph shows a 50 hectare tobacco crop in the 1990s. The second photograph shows the same field in 2006 (taken from a different angle). In this figure the paths cutting across the empty field are evident, as are the war veteran housing in the distance located in the middle of the field.

The following three photographs present another before and after sequence, but in these photographs a horticulture operation is displayed. The first two photographs show a 4.7 hectare horticulture operation in Mashonaland Central before the farm seizures. The third photograph in the sequence depicts the same horticulture greenhouses after it was stripped of valuable switches and equipment during the takeovers, and the site was then allowed to burn.

Not all seized farm equipment was used for the originally intended purpose. Some equipment was sold by farm invaders intact in Zimbabwe or in neighbouring Zambia and South Africa. However, much of the seized equipment was re-purposed. For example, the first figure in the following slideshow is of a farm trailer seized by invaders. The problem for invaders with this kind of trailer is that it requires a tractor to pull it and if the individual did not own (or have access to) such equipment then the asset was usually stripped of parts. In this instance the wheels and other smaller and more easily re-purposed pieces have been removed. Wheels and axles can be used in rural areas as carts and other similar equipment, such as shown in the second photograph. What is most noteworthy about these images is that the re-purposing involves taking high-value specialist equipment and converting parts of it to low-value use – thus rendering the high-value equipment unusable.

The following figures show some of the very large quantities of farm land that fell into disuse after being seized. In the first two figures the fence demarcates the edge of the former farm field. The third figure shows a former field that began after the two roads. The fourth figure identifies a large field, with the tree-line clearly demarcating the boundaries. The fifth figure depicts a large greenhouse that has fallen into disrepair after the farm was seized.

Source of Images: Charles Laurie and anonymous farmer respondents