Communique Issued at the End of the International Donors' Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement

September 9 - 11, 1998 - Harare

The International Donors' Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement in Zimbabwe was held in Harare, Zimbabwe from 9 to 11 September, 1998.

The Conference was convened by the Government of Zimbabwe in order to inform donors on land reform and resettlement issues and to mobilise support for the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme.

The Conference was attended by Representatives of Donor Countries and International Organisations as well as Representatives of Government, local institutions, non-government organisations, civic leaders and other stakeholders.

The Conference was officially opened by His Excellency President R. G Mugabe. In his opening statement, the President underscored the importance and urgency of resolving the land question in Zimbabwe. He reiterated Government's commitment to acquire five million hectares in the next five years to resettle about 150 000 families. He stressed that the objective of the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme is to establish a more efficient and rational structure of farming, achieve optimal utilisation of land and natural resources and provide equitable access to land to all Zimbabweans irrespective of colour, gender or creed. The representatives of the UN Secretary General, the OAU Secretary General, the World Bank and the President of the European Union also spoke during the opening session.

The following Donor Countries and International Organisations made statements in the Plenary Sessions of the Conference. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, United States of America, ADB, ECA, The European Union Delegation, IFAD, IMF, IOM, UNEP. The following local organisations also addressed the Conference; CFU, ZFU, ICFU, ZTA, the Women and Land Lobby Group.

The Donors commended Government for the openness, frankness of the consultation process leading to the Conference and the proceedings of the Conference itself. They welcomed the opportunity offered to them to comment on the documentation prior to the Conference and the open and frank responses provided by Government on the Donors' Comments.

The Donors unanimously endorsed the need for land reform and resettlement in Zimbabwe and affirmed that this was essential for poverty reduction, economic growth and stability.

Donors appreciated the political imperative and urgency of the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme and agreed that an Inception Phase covering 24 months should commence immediately. A significant number of Donors have pledged technical/or financial support for the Programme.

The delegates to the Conference had the opportunity to observe and talk to rural communities during field visits. Some of the key experiences gained from these visits were that most communal families are living under growing land pressure and that there is ample evidence of poverty. Delegates also noted that communities are actively involved in settler section.

The Conference agreed that the effective implementation of the Programme will be greatly enhanced by improvements in the following aspects:-
  • The Land Reform and Resettlement Porogramme is integrally located within the on-going national land policy formulation exercise and that it be integrated into the national macro-economic policy reform process and the evolving poverty alleviation action plans. Such policy refinements will include the introduction of an agricultural land tax, the streamlining of land subdivision regulations and the operationalisation of improved land tenure arrangements.

  • The Programme will be enriched by further and on-going consultations with stakeholders and co-operating partners as well as learning from external experiences.

  • The focus of the programmes on poverty eradication will require selecting beneficiaries from among the poor, those living in congested communal areas and those with farming aptitude as well as vulnerable groups such as farms workers.

  • The Programme will address more adequately gender aspects such as equal access and ownership of land by men and women and the involvement of women in the planning and implementation processes.

  • The Land Reform and Resettlement Programme will integrate communal area reorganisation and ensure equitable allocations of resources and development opportunities in resettlement and communal areas.

  • The programme will be implemented in a transparent, fair and sustainable manner, with regard to respect for the law, and broadened stakeholder as well as beneficiary participation. It should also be affordable, cost effective, and consistent with economic and financial management reforms.

  • The institutional arrangements for managing the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme will include consultations and partnerships of Government with all stakeholders, the beneficiaries and civil society including the National Economic Consultative Forum, the Commercial Farmers' Union, Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union, Women's Organisations and other non-Governmental Organisations.

  • The Conference committed itself to supporting an Inception Phase which will be implemented over a period of 24 months. The main elements of this Phase are:-
  • Immediate implementation of resettlement beginning with the 118 farms on offer.
  • The implementation of current Government resettlement models and the provision of opportunities for testing alternative approaches such as market driven and beneficiary initiated models.
  • Community based land redistribution initiatives will be encouraged including through on-going programmes such as the Community Action Plan.
  • Funding arrangements will encompass various approaches including sector specific and scheme based project proposals.
  • Some of the undisbursed funds in the programmes that Donors are currently supporting will provide a framework to kick-start the Inception Phase.
  • Monitoring will be on-going during the Inception Phase with an evaluation at the end of the period.
The Conference agreed to establish a Task Force constituted of Government and donors willing to substantially contribute to the programme to elaborate specific implementation and funding arrangements of the Inception Phase and the longer term. The Task Force will hold its first meeting on September 24, 1998.

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