Mugabe against land leasing
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.