The Zimbabwean government has been endlessly tinkering with the 12 million hectares of land it compulsorily acquired under the Land Reform program. The measure reduces maximum farm sizes that individuals can own. These reductions are being effected according to the Natural Farming region within which the farm is located.

Subject to sections 5 and 6, no person shall own a farm in Natural Region One if the size of the farm exceeds 250 hectares or Natural Region Two if the size of the farm exceeds 500 hectares or Natural Region Three if the size of the farm exceeds 700 hectares or Natural Region Four if the size of the farm exceeds 1 000 hectares or Natural Region Five if the size of the farm exceeds 2 000 hectares.

Part of the gazetted letter that informs farmers of the adjustments

It’s probably a good thing

As Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor pointed out today, Zimbabwe is importing everything including potatoes and carrots. Part of the reason for this is that Zimbabwean farms are heavily underutilised with most of the land lying idle.

However, constantly tinkering with land is unhelpful and disruptive. It is a constant reminder that despite all claims to the contrary, the government owns the land and tenants occupying it can lose it at any time.

The instrument used to effect this change is a letter. This is the government just telling its tenants that there have been some adjustments. Part of the reason why utilisation is low is because of a lack of capital. Banks are unwilling to give out loans based on offer letters as collateral.