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Revisit Tibiyo and land use

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Day-dreaming is good, but if it is institutionalised it becomes too dangerous to the well-being of the individual and/or the nation.

In fact, the best way of dreaming is to make policies that enable individuals to craft their own aims and objectives.

Having said that, there have been many pronouncements on the use of land for agricultural, commercial, housing and developmental purposes etc, but government is still failing to address the issue of the land policy.

Those who have ownership of land now build houses on fertile land or keep that land unproductive. It must be noted that Swaziland has about 70 per cent Title Deed Land (TDL) and about 30 per cent Swazi Nation Land (SNL).

It is not the purpose of this article to reveal how the TDL allocation came about, but one can say that this is good land for plantation and rearing livestock.

We should, as a nation, not sit and blame the colonial era, but we must revisit the purposes of establishing Tibiyo TakaNgwane which has turned out to be a fattening ranch for a section of the Swazi society.


King Sobhuza II, with the contribution of the nation, formed Tibiyo to help buy land that was taken by the colonial masters and give it back to the original owners (chiefdoms and communities)  and in doing so each homestead had to donate a beast (impungulelo).

He had already adopted the willing seller willing buyer philosophy, but with some negotiations behind the scenes. This is how Tibiyo acquired so many farms which it is also failing to fully utilise to date.

Later, Tibiyo became a buyer of farms even from Swazis at high prices, but started selling them cheaply to certain individuals who have some connections with it. Many people working for Tibiyo own farms which they got for a song or unbelievable prices.

Due to this malpractice, many farms are in the hands of individuals/corporations who have no interest in farming operations, but only the ownership of those farms. What could be said of Swazis who own more than one farm?

It must be appreciated that government, under crown land, owns farms too showing that the 70 per cent allocation has individuals, corporations, Tibiyo and government. After noticing this anomaly of failing to use the farms, both Tibiyo and government tried to lease these farms to interested farmers.

This has not been successful for numerous reasons. Some of these farms had many problems. They were not fenced, others had farm dwellers with their animals, no water, landscape defects, agricultural facilities missing/non-functioning, road leading to them in a poor state, etc. So who would lease such farms under these conditions?


Why hasn’t Tibiyo or government put up this infrastructure? Government could afford to build factory shells for investors, why not locals to encourage farming and self sufficiency? This is why we beg for food today.

Many serious farmers wanted to invest in the production and not in the infrastructure preparation.

Now, 69 percent of Swazis are using undocumented pieces of land from the 30 percent of SNL. Who would invest in land where the ownership is not guaranteed? Farming is an expensive operation, hence ownership of the said piece of land must be documented and protected.

Instead of shouting in the offices in Mbabane, the land policy must come out to stimulate proper usage of land even on the SNL. There is a need for a documented instrument for the usage and ownership of our grandfathers/mothers ploughing fields.

Instead of government making noise about what to plant in certain areas, it should build silos close to farming areas and buy that crop from the farmers and further provide a market strategy for the users of the crop in question to encourage them to buy from the said silos.

Pronouncements of what to do cannot solve the ills of failing to feed ourselves, but empowerment of the nation will provide a lasting solution to poverty and food shortage.

People out there have ideas but the Tinkhundla government is perpetually failing the nation by reducing it to beggars for everything, including food. What a shame.

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