4 September 2017

Zimbabwe: RBZ Deputy Governor Says Slain White Farmers Not Worth As Much Publicity As Given

Photo: New Zimbabwe
Jesimen Chipika, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

White commercial farmers killed at the height of farm invasions in 2000 were too few to warrant the wide media coverage they got at home and abroad, the Deputy Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Jesimen Chipika, has said.

Chipika said this at the launch of the book "Towards Democratic Developmental States in Southern Africa" in which she contributed a highly controversial Chapter on Zimbabwe.

"The killing of the white commercial farmers during the land reform was not worse than the killings in South Africa. There were just four or so farmers who were killed and I don't know why we got bad publicity for it," Chipika told the astounded guests at the launch.

Chipika was trying to justify the bloody land evasions that took place in 2000 which saw hundreds of former white commercial farmers booted out of their farmers, leaving all their belongings, including farming equipment and household furniture.

She said she was happy that the land reform exercise was not reversible, adding that through the controversial fast track programme, Zimbabwe was now posed to achieve growth and meet the target for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda which emphasized the redistribution of the key means of production, including land to end poverty and hunger.

"We have already done that as a country because we have already re-distributed land and minerals to the majority and addressed the skewed ownership of resources," she said.

Chipika, however, noted that the government had failed to realise that the new farmers who had taken over former white owned farms needed support, saying besides the taking of the land, nothing had changed economically to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

The development economist, who has had a stint with the United Nations Country Team and the World Bank, said the formation of Government of National Unity in 2009 led to regression and she was happy it had not gone beyond 2013.

"The Government of National Unity could not have served us any positively beyond 2013 because it ended up with an anti-developmental gridlock," she said.

Zimbabwe's fast track land reform programme, which was viewed as a brutal response to the No Vote in a Constitutional Referendum, saw 4 500 white farmers being forcibly removed from their farms, with scores of them being killed in the process as President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party sensed a looming election defeat in the elections that were to follow.

The exercise saw the creation of A1 and A2 farms which were distributed to small scale farmers, most of them Zanu PF supporters.

However, although the agrarian reform created millions of new black farmers, it saw the country's agricultural production plummeting to unprecedented levels as the country lost its bread basket of Africa status, becoming a basket case not able to feed itself.

This also affected the manufacturing sector, which was largely agrarian based, leading to massive company closures and relocations which resulted in huge job losses.

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