Pres­i­dent slams sell­outs . . . Says no to leas­ing out land to for­mer white farm­ers

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Ti­no­muda Chakanyuka Se­nior Re­porter

PRES­I­DENT Mugabe yes­ter­day took a swipe at some ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Land Re­form Pro­gramme, in­clud­ing some tra­di­tional lead­ers who are leas­ing out farms to for­mer white farm­ers de­scrib­ing them as sell­outs who are be­tray­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle.

He said the prac­tice should stop forth­with. Of­fi­cially open­ing the An­nual Na­tional Chiefs’ Con­fer­ence at the Large City Hall in Bu­l­awayo, Pres­i­dent Mugabe said peo­ple should use the land in­stead of be­ing ca­joled into du­bi­ous ar­range­ments. The Pres­i­dent said ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the agrar­ian re­form who en­ter into such ar­range­ments risked hav­ing their farms re­pos­sessed.

“We hear that there are some for­mer white farm­ers who are com­ing back via the back door, of­fer­ing you trac­tors, cen­tre piv­ots say­ing they just want to help you. They tell you to stay in town while they farm for you, har­vest then share the yield. We say no to such. Never should we al­low our land to be re­pos­sessed by whites. Some got land when they are not able to use it. They are work­ing in cities let­ting white farm­ers work on the land. If you don’t want to use the land, tell us openly not to clan­des­tinely en­ter into ar­range­ments with for­mer white farm­ers com­ing from Johannesburg (South Africa). We will chase both you and your white farmer from that land. This land was fought for,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Mugabe said no for­mer white farmer was wel­come back into Zim­babwe.

“These whites are com­ing back here pre­tend­ing to be hum­ble as if they have no blem­ish and coax you into these ar­range­ments. No, we don’t want that. They should stay there in Johannesburg,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent added that the land was sa­cred and indige­nous Zim­bab­weans should jeal­ously pro­tect it from be­ing re­pos­sessed by the for­mer com­mer­cial farm­ers.

“Those that got farms should not think that they own the land. The land is sa­cred. You were only given that land to work on it and pro­duce food. When you die you will leave the land for your fam­ily and those that will come after you. In our cul­ture chiefs are the cus­to­di­ans of the land. Peo­ple are the own­ers of the land, in so far as they use it when they die they leave that land for oth­ers,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent said he was sur­prised to hear that some tra­di­tional lead­ers were yet to ben­e­fit from the Land Re­form Pro­gramme.

He said the Gov­ern­ment would also look into the is­sue. Some chiefs had ear­lier, dur­ing the con­fer­ence, raised the is­sue with Min­is­ter of Lands, and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora. Pres­i­dent Mugabe said he would dis­cuss with the Min­istry of Lands and Ru­ral Set­tle­ment to en­sure that some of the chiefs’ sub­jects who are yet to ben­e­fit from the land re­dis­tri­bu­tion pro­gramme get land.

“I was sur­prised to hear that some chiefs don’t have farms. Ev­ery­where where Gov­ern­ment re­pos­sessed farms we made sure that chiefs were in­volved. If that was not done we would want to hear why. How­ever, there are some chiefs who are greedy and want more than one farm. We can’t have that. We also want to en­sure that those peo­ple in your ar­eas who don’t have land are al­lo­cated land. We will be talk­ing to the Min­is­ter of Lands to see how we can get these peo­ple land,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Mugabe de­nounced some greedy ben­e­fi­cia­ries who are hold­ing on to large tracts of land while other peo­ple did not have land. He said the Gov­ern­ment was car­ry­ing out a land au­dit that would be look­ing at re­siz­ing large farms and re­dis­tribut­ing the land to other land­less Zim­bab­weans.

“We have those that have farms as big as 500 hectares, 1 000 hectares and so on. Some even have farms as big as 2 000 hectares where they say they are into cat­tle ranch­ing. It’s be­ing greedy and self­ish. We say to them, why don’t you farm grass for your cat­tle?. So now we are look­ing at these big farms to cut them and give oth­ers. The greed­i­ness should end,” he de­creed.

Pres­i­dent Mugabe also thanked tra­di­tional lead­ers for sup­port­ing the Com­mand Agri­cul­ture Pro­gramme which he de­scribed as a suc­cess.

He said with such sup­port into the beck­on­ing sum­mer crop­ping sea­son cou­pled with promis­ing good rains, the coun­try was set for an­other bumper har­vest to shame nay-say­ing for­mer white farm­ers who were now based in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

“We also thank you for sup­port­ing Com­mand Agri­cul­ture. Oth­ers were say­ing it won’t work but we proved them wrong. There are for­mer white farm­ers now based in Zam­bia who thought our pro­gramme would fail. Now this year we want to shut them up. We want to record an­other bumper har­vest,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Mugabe said he had been in­formed by the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Mech­a­ni­sa­tion and Ir­ri­ga­tion De­vel­op­ment Dr Joseph Made that the rainy sea­son would start in earnest in the next few days and urged farm­ers to be pre­pared. The An­nual Na­tional Chiefs’ Con­fer­ence was held un­der the theme “Pro­mot­ing tra­di­tional lead­er­ship prac­tices that safe­guard cul­ture and her­itage for sus­tain­able ru­ral de­vel­op­ment in line with the Zim As­set blueprint.” Vice-Pres­i­dents Cdes Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as well as sev­eral Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and other of­fi­cials at­tended the of­fi­cial open­ing of the con­fer­ence.

See more Con­fer­ence sto­ries on Page 2

Pres­i­dent Mugabe ar­rives for the An­nual Na­tional Chiefs’ Con­fer­ence at the Large City Hall in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day. Wel­com­ing him are Vice-Pres­i­dents Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, pres­i­dent of the Chiefs Coun­cil Chief For­tune Charumbira and the Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional Hous­ing Cde Saviour Ka­sukuwere

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