EU promises €4.9 million for Zimbabwe’s land audit

Harare -The European Union will provide €4.9 million (about US$6.9 million) towards a long-awaited audit of Zimbabwe’s controversial land redistribution programme, the EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia said Wednesday.\r\n

Dell’Ariccia told reporters that the funds were the EU’s contribution towards the implementation of a National Land Audit Programme.

A 2008 political agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party and rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions that led to the formation of the country’s power-sharing government calls for a land audit to establish who owns which land in order to eliminate multiple land owners.

The land audit has failed to take off because of a shortage of funds and resistance from senior ZANU PF officials who are multiple farm owners.

Land remains a divisive issue in Zimbabwe after Mugabe over the past decade drove most of the country’s about 4,500 large-scale White landowners off their farms which he went on to parcel out to landless Blacks.

Critics say Mugabe’s cronies – and not ordinary black peasants – benefited the most from the land reforms, with many ending up with up to six farms each against the government’s publicly stated one-man-one-farm policy.

Mugabe has often rejected calls by Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC for a review of the land redistribution programme, saying those behind the calls want to return expropriated farms to their White former owners.