The land reform program will always be a topic of heated discussion. However, I’m not going to dwell on that especially considering that the issue is riddled with political connotations. What I’ll give allusion to though is the issue of farm subleasing or subletting that surfaced around the year 2014. By the way, I’m only mentioning this to put my later remarks into perspective. There were growing concerns by the government on the surging incidence of farm owners subletting their farms. At the time it seems the issue was more inclined on farm owners subletting their farms to the former white owners. So this sort of paved way for dissuasions by a government that people shouldn’t sublet their farms. Anyways, I mentioned this to highlight that the issue of subletting has been topical since that time.

A Brief Look At Why People Sublet Farms

Without intending to sound a certain way, it’s common knowledge that there are a lot of farm owners who aren’t using them. Some don’t use them because they actually aren’t passionate about farming per se but only attained farm ownership for prestige. In my own opinion, prestige-driven farm ownership is actually the most rampant in the country. This is a scenario which has actually led to farm misuse, underuse or total idleness. Some are quite noble in that they sublet so as to enter into joint ventures or partnerships meant to help them be more productive. Some obtained farm ownership and are actually passionate about farming but lack the financial muscle to produce anything. So it’s quite clear that the reasons people would want to own farms are varied and this also leads to a varying basis for subletting.

Green Light Has Now Been Given For Farm Subletting

Newly resettled farmers have now been given the go-ahead to sublet their farms. Government has seen it expedient to allow them to sublet so as to stimulate production in the agriculture sector. This, of course, has sparked a lot of negative reactions from the public and I’ll touch on some of the reactions in just a moment. I’m sure you already know that there must be some self-seeking agenda in this new development – something quite common in most government-related developments. Anyways, a look at some of the reactions:

Public Sentiments On The Development

There are some who feel that this move is meant to cushion lazy and unproductive farm owners who just took land for the sake of just taking the land. Someone actually implored on the government to employ the ‘use it or lose it’ approach. In essence subletting will imply that some people who got land absolutely for free will now enjoy rentals without producing a thing. The overarching question being, ‘why not give the land to those with the drive and capacity to utilize it’. Another way to look at it is that somehow the government is now admitting that most people attained farms undeservedly. Another reaction was centred on the rationale that state land mustn’t be sublet since it belongs to all. Thus anyone who isn’t doing anything on the land must just vacate it for serious farmers.

Most people actually felt that this is akin to legalizing corruption. Just think of it for a moment; consider those with multiple farms. Subletting means they will just start earning without losing a single cent. In principle, why make money from a farm by subletting rather than farming. It still goes back to the main bone of contention i.e. if one can’t utilize a farm then they just must let go and deserving farmers get the land.

There are also those who felt that this is actually a good move. Someone actually gave reference to some farms in Bindura and Mazowe that are producing good results through subletting. This also shows that for several years subletting has actually been happening. Even if subletting does produce results it’s still a burden on the one paying rentals (funds that could have otherwise been channelled for other vital things).

Overall, the vast majority is heavily opposed to the development. This is mostly premised on the fact that most of the people who stand to benefit are actually government officials. The other issue has to do with the apparent yet indirect rewarding of corruption. So clearly this move might not necessarily address the low agricultural production widespread across the country. The circumstances under which most of the farms were taken set a bad precedent for prospective tenants. Picture a scenario where after you’ve finished farming and are ready to harvest and you’re violently ejected. Some people expressed concerns over the possible incidence of such situations.