Mu­gabe against land leas­ing

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - PETA THORNYCROFT

PRES­I­DENT Robert Mu­gabe has once again warned his sup­port­ers to stop leas­ing out land given to them post the 2000 land re­form pro­gramme which saw nearly all white farm­ers evicted from their farms.

He re­minded the crowd at a rally about 80km north of Harare at the week­end that land should not be leased to whites as it be­longed to the indige­nous peo­ple and he warned that other evicted white farm­ers might re­turn to Zim­babwe.

“So, how come, I ask, that some of you, who have farms have al­lowed whites to come back clan­des­tinely and are farm­ing. They are work­ing on your farms as you spend time, per­haps in Harare,” Mu­gabe said.

He sent this mes­sage out at each of the five ral­lies he has ad­dressed in the last cou­ple of months. Mu­gabe will stand for re-elec­tion next year, when he will be 94, and has to fi­nally leave of­fice in 2023.

The largest tobacco grower in Zim­babwe is white and he never owned a farm prior to the post 2000 land grab, but was a farm man­ager and now leases sev­eral pieces of land from se­nior black Zanu-PF mem­bers who were given white-owned land.

Many white farm­ers leas­ing land from black ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the land re­form pro­gramme, com­mute to their crops weekly.

“They ac­cept there will never be a re­turn of white farm­ers to Zim­babwe. The present sit­u­a­tion is a one-gen­er­a­tion busi­ness. There aren’t many of them, maybe 100 or so who are leas­ing from black ben­e­fi­cia­ries and are try­ing to make enough money to ed­u­cate their kids,” Mu­gabe said.

He said if he made enough in the next few sea­sons he would hope to leave the coun­try.

“None of them are in­vest­ing in the farms they lease, they just use the land,” a for­mer evicted white farmer in Zim­babwe who now works in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, but asked not to be named, said.There is also another group of white farm­ers – about 200 – who have been al­lowed, un­of­fi­cially, to re­main on small bits of their orig­i­nal land­hold­ing, who still live in their fam­ily homes, and who are pro­duc­ing tobacco.

Most of them say they do not see any fu­ture in Zim­babwe be­yond their own gen­er­a­tion. Mu­gabe told this rally that he blamed the Bri­tish for fail­ing to pay for land to their “kith and kin” af­ter the Lan­caster House peace deal in 1980.

There are prob­a­bly about 2 000 eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive whites left in Zim­babwe, most in agri­cul­ture and min­ing.

With fab­u­lous rain in the last sea­son, Zim­babwe grew enough maize to feed it­self for the first time since the post 2000 land dis­tur­bances be­gan. Sur­pris­ingly the gov­ern­ment in Harare said it will pay twice as much as South Africa or Zam­bia pays its farm­ers for maize.

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