USAID COUNTRY PROFILE
PROPERTY RIGHTS AND RESOURCE GOVERNANCE
In September 2008, Zimbabwe’s political parties, ZANU–PF and the two formations of MDC, signed a power-sharing agreement. The Agreement identifies land as a critical issue and commits to: (1) conduct a land audit to ensure accountability and to eliminate multiple farms; (2) ensure that land is allocated to eligible people on a non-discriminatory basis; (3) ensure land tenure security; (4) call for the U.K. government to accept primary responsibility to pay compensation to landowners for land acquired for settlement; (5) work to secure international support for the land reform program (including compensation for landowners and support for new farmers); and (6) work for the productivity of agricultural land. Land tenure insecurity is extremely high in Zimbabwe, and agricultural production has suffered. Commercial farmers, as well as farmers who have been resettled on taken land, remain uncertain about the strength of their property rights. Although the formal legal system continues to function in Zimbabwe, its legitimacy has been seriously undermined through political interference. The government operates under a series of laws, orders, and emergency presidential decrees of often dubious legal authority.
In marked contrast to the 1990’s, by 2004, 80% of Zimbabweans were living below the national poverty line. By January 2009, only 6% of the population held jobs in the formal sector. Takings of agricultural land and mismanagement of other natural resources have affected both the economy and the environment. The country’s rural population is dependent on forest resources and is losing forest land at a rate of 1.7% per year. Zimbabwe has an important percentage of the world’s known reserves of metallurgical-grade chromite; coal deposits, platinum, asbestos, copper, nickel, gold and iron ore are also significant. Military takeover of some mining operations, along with other economic factors, have caused upheaval in the mining industry since 2000. In September 2009, both Mugabe and Tsvangarai announced intentions to prepare a policy environment conducive to mining, although questions regarding the level of black empowerment and the role of local investors were not resolved in the following months, and continued opening of the sector is not certain. Early 2010 news articles, however, indicate that the Government of Zimbabwe is counting on ramped-up mining efforts to generate the resources needed to clear IMF debt and thus make the country eligible for HIPC debt forgiveness and additional resources for growth.
The implementation of the power-sharing agreement’s commitments regarding land and attention to the management of the country’s other natural resources will be critical to Zimbabwe’s recovery. USAID’s FY 2010 programming responds to the challenges and opportunities facing the new inclusive government and includes significant programming to support strengthening the judiciary and government institutions, and reviving the agricultural sector. Programs developed by USAID and other donors can be tailored and expanded to address the following critical areas:
KEY ISSUES AND INTERVENTION CONSTRAINTS
Design and Execution of a Non-Partisan Land Audit. As the power-sharing agreement recognizes, an initial priority for the inclusive government will be determining the status of landholdings throughout the country. The audit must be conducted in an impartial and objective fashion—possibly with the participation of parties from neighboring African nations—in order for the information to be deemed accurate and fair by all parties. The method applied to assess land quality will be especially critical because the assessment will impact the price paid in the event of compensation payments. Development of an impartial and effective audit will be a step toward establishment of accountable, ZIMBABWE—PROPERTY RIGHTS AND RESOURCE GOVERNANCE PROFILE 1...
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