U.S Defence Attaché Praises Land Reform (allAfrica.com)

United States senior Defence Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Edward Williams has conceded that the land reform programme has largely been successful despite the negative perception propagated by the West. In an interview after touring New Donnington Farm in Norton owned by former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono, Lt Col Williams said he was impressed by the whole organisational structure at the farm, which he said was based on the utilisation of local resources to produce maximum yields.
“I am very impressed with the organisational structure at this farm — in many ways the size, the way it started, the chickens and how they produce eggs and how chicken manure is utilised in the soya bean fields.
“I am new in Zimbabwe, but this farm is a good example of how land is being put to good use for the people of Zimbabwe.”
Asked if his sentiments were not a climbdown from the official US perception that land reform was a failure, Lt Col Williams said New Donnington Farm was unique in that it was bought by the owner before the fast-track land distribution exercise.
He said the major ingredient in the success of New Donnington Farm was that Dr Gono was able to recruit experts in each production sector.
Lt Col Williams said the experts have been the driving force in leveraging the farm into a thriving business venture.
South Africa’s Defence Attaché, Colonel Methuli Mathibe concurred with Lt Col Williams, saying while the earlier phase of land reform had experienced some hiccups, no one doubts its success.
“What I have witnessed here is that this farm is well-managed and the most impressive thing is the recycling of materials, especially the fact that soya beans is being produced purely from chicken manure and no fertiliser has been added to it,” said Col Mathibe.
He said the tour of New Donnington Farm came at an opportune time for him as he would be soon retiring and would want to go into full time farming.
Col Mathibe said he had already submitted his claim for his ancestral land which was forcibly taken from his forefathers.
He said the saddest thing was that the owner of the stolen land was an absentee landlord residing in England.
“The land issue is an emotive issue in South Africa and I am glad that our Government has again opened land claims and is encouraging those who were deprived of their land to submit their claims,” said Col Mathibe.
“We hope the issue would be solved sooner than later.”
Russian Defence Attaché Brigadier General Alexander Grigoriev said his country was in a similar situation with Zimbabwe following the imposition of sanctions by the US.
“The experience of the two countries is that faced with economic sanctions, we must harness local resources to ensure production on essential sectors of the economy like industry and agriculture,” he said.
“This farm is a clear testimony of that experience as the land is being fully utilised by using local resources.”
The Dean of the Defence Attaches accredited to Zimbabwe, Malawian Brigadier General Victor Malikebu said New Donnington Farm was sure proof of the ingenuity of black farmers in making use of land for the good of the nation.
“I am most impressed with the chickens and the fact that Dr Gono said he was targeting a daily production of one million eggs,” he said. “That is clearly a massive target that will go a long way in not just creating employment, but also generating income.”
Brig Gen Malikebu said most of the land in Malawi was owned by indigenous Malawians who have been doing well in delivering food security.
The tour of New Donnington Farm was organised by the Office of Defence Intelligence in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Other Defence Attaches who were part of the delegation together with their spouses included Brig Gen Laga from Mozambique, Col Armando (Angola), Col Tlhage Modise (Botswana), Group Captain Hetty Amadhlila (Namibia), Col Amadala Muhammed Alphonce (Tanzania) and Lieutenant Col Dereck Mango from Zimbabwe.
Source: Business