Will new regime revive agriculture in Zimbabwe?

Under the Mugabe regime, Zimbabwe’s agriculture industry has been deteriorating for many years. This was partly due to chaotic land reform, a lack of private property rights, and poorly targeted and partisan-based subsidy programmes.

Will new regime revive agriculture in Zimbabwe?

The current military siege of power in Zimbabwe could be the beginning of the transformation the country’s agriculture sector needs.

READ Resolving agriculture’s transformation deadlock

According to Tinashe Kapuya, an agribusiness economist, the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe never recovered from the land reform policy initiated in 2000, and has remained subdued over the past 15 years.

For this reason, Kapuya said that the military capture of the state was unlikely to have an immediate effect on the sector.

However, he added that new leadership could result in a new vision for the sector, and could be the start of a new dispensation that redefined agriculture in Zimbabwe.

Kapuya also said that to revive the sector, Zimbabwe needed to first strengthen property rights in the country, and allow for the private ownership of land.

“This would not only promote investment, but also improve land management as well,” said Kapuya.

Current reports suggested that Zimbabwe’s former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, would lead the transitional government.

However, Kapuya said that Mnangagwa’s policies have thus far been defined by contradiction.

“On the one hand, he has reportedly shown [an] openness to markets, and was seen to be someone who would advance a more liberal integration of Zimbabwe’s economy into the global market.

[On the other hand], reports have [also presented] him as a figure that has advanced a command agriculture [socialist] policy narrative. While both are diametrically opposite, the latter could be interpreted as a positional play that was deeply etched in factional politics,” said Kapuya.

Kapuya also said that white farmers had an important role to play in the revival of commercial agriculture in the country, and that several politicians in ZANU-PF, Zimbabwe’s ruling political party, believed this.

“I think Mnangagwa will embrace white commercial farmers, but that will obviously need a new narrative that departs from Mugabe’s bigotry and racist politics,” Kapuya said.