Zimbabwe: Destruction of its Timber Plantations

This is a timely reminder of one of the consequences of the ill-considered land invasion policy of the ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe. It was recently revealed by the Finance Minister of Zimbabwe. 

Will the likes of Julius Malema and the EFF take cognaissance of this open admission of this policy’s devastating consequences? 

 Main picture: Timber plantations in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe 

In her latest blog from the misery that is current day Zimbabwe, Cathy Buckle highlights yet another aspect of the inane land seizures policy. 

Imagine this scenario. Thirty thousand hectares of prime timber have been lost to “plantation occupiers” during the government’s land seizures. This translated into a loss of 20 years worth of timber reserves along with $2 billion in potential revenue and 3,000 jobs lost in the deforestation that ensued.

It was never a good idea to allocate forestry to individuals,” Finance Minister Chinamasa said. “These people had no capacity to run timber plantations…these illegal settlers only had capacity to harvest and could not afford to replant. Right now we don’t have plantations to talk of and as government we are saying they should be removed from the plantations.”

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet supporters of his ZANU (PF) party during the “One Million Man March”, a show of support of Mugabe’s rule in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 25, 2016

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet supporters of his ZANU (PF) party during the “One Million Man March”, a show of support of Mugabe’s rule in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 25, 2016

Minister Chinamasa went on to say something that economists been saying for the last seventeen years. Illegal settlements in plantations were “politically motivated and as such hard to deal with; it would have been easier if the people were intellectuals,” he said. The Minister did not elaborate why or if “intellectuals” would have chopped down 30,000 hectares of forest land in the first place. He said other land would have to be found before illegal plantation settlers could be removed and relocated. He didn’t say how long that would take or how long it would take for 30,000 hectares of timber plantations to recover and start contributing to the economy again.

Bond Notes in Zimbabwe

Bond Notes in Zimbabwe

This same Minister was an MP and cabinet member all through the years of land seizures but is only just speaking out now. Why? Did he take him seventeen years to realise what the consequences of the government policies were? Or is it because all the “seed corn” has been consumed that the stark reality of situation is now staring Zimbabwe in the face that he spoke out?

So far the same pattern has emerged in South Africa where ill-trained people are awarded fully functioning farms. The new occupants rapidly consume the resources without replanting and reinvesting and the farm is destroyed.

timber-plantations-forests_512

Will the admission by Mr Chinamasa that their policy was ill-considered deter the likes of the EFF and their ilk? Undoubtedly not. Like an addict, they are under the mistaken belief that they can control it without resorted to the proposed solution: stop drinking.


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