13 February 2017

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Senator Says Land Grab Policies Racist, Over 1000 White Ex-Farmers Poverty Stricken

Photo: The Herald Zimbabwe
A Tobacco farm in Zimbabwe

MDC-T Bulawayo Senator Michael Carter has ripped into the Zanu PF sponsored Land Commission Bill for allegedly being racist and impoverishing nearly a thousand former white land owners and their black workers.

He was speaking during debate on the proposed law in the upper house on Thursday during which fellow Senators took turns to slate the law.

The Bill, framed by government's land reform process, is provided for in the Constitution under Section 296.

It stipulates the setting up of a Commission that would be tasked to carry out land audits and fair distribution of farms while the implementation of the Bill will repeal the Agricultural land Settlement Act, Land Acquisition Act and Land Act.

But Carter, a white Zimbabwean, singled out Section 21(2) of the Constitution which he said restricted the right of individuals who are not indigenous citizens to own, lease or occupy State land adding that the draft law mimicked the colonial white government's laws which discriminated against blacks.

"For the record, as a white person, I must protest that this Clause is discriminatory," Carter said.

"Can a white person not be indigenous? In our Constitution, citizens are separated from indigenous people on a racial basis which is unconstitutional and will eventually be challenged.

"This discrimination is based on the same principle as applied by the Smith Government against black people. Do two wrongs make a right?"

Carter said nearly a thousand of former white land owners who lost their land were now leading lives of penury as a result of government's chaotic land reform process.

"About a thousand ex-white farmers are sitting poverty stricken in the towns around Zimbabwe.

"They have not been paid for their farms and they are not allowed to farm because they are white.

"They are second class citizens in their own land..."

The outspoken legislator said the main victims of the land reform were the ex-farm workers.

"I do not see anything in the Land Commission Bill referring to them," he added.

"The irony of the Land Reform is that it has actually displaced 1.4 million people, being about half a million farm workers and their families with just under 300 000 new settlers."

According to government, the fast-track land reform programme which began in 2000, has seen about 11,7 million hectares owned by approximately 4 500 white commercial farmers reduced to only 3,4 million hectares, with the rest transferred to hundreds of thousands of landless Zimbabweans.

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