14 December 2017

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Govt 'Orders Land Grabbers to Vacate Farms' - Report

Photo: The Herald Zimbabwe
A Tobacco farm in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's new minister of lands, agriculture and rural settlement, Retired Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, has reportedly ordered those who have illegally occupied farm lands to leave "immediately" or face the wrath of law.

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Shiri said: "If we are to meet the goals set out by government to use agriculture as the mainstay of the economy, we need to ensure unquestionable sanity on the farms.

"... All those who were illegally settled or who just settled themselves on resettlement land should vacate immediately".

+ Shiri also warned officials from his ministry to desist from engaging in corrupt activities when issuing out land, as this was a crime that attracted a jail term.

A BBC report said that the move could see a return of white farmers who were evicted during a controversial land reforms programme that was led by former president Robert Mugabe.

Racial discrimination

Last week, the Zimbabwean government ordered that land confiscated from a white farmer to give to an ally of former president Robert Mugabe must be returned.

Robert Smart, who grew tobacco and corn on his farm in Makoni in eastern Zimbabwe, was evicted in June after a former minister ordered that the plot be turned over to pro-Mugabe cleric Trevor Manhanga.

"(He) surrendered part of his farm during the land reforms and the G40 started racially profiling him to justify eviction," said Chris Mutsvangwa, a special adviser to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The G40, or Generation 40, was a faction of the Zanu-PF party, mainly younger members, once loyal to Mugabe's wife Grace.

"Smart and others were victims of racial discrimination, greed and abuse of power. Their farms were acquired outside the parameters of the law."

Brutal and arbitrary

Mutsvangwa also said at the time that the government was investigating other illegal farm takeovers.

In 2000 Mugabe launched the disastrous land seizure programme in which farms were forcibly taken from white farmers, officially justified as an effort to stimulate economic growth for black Zimbabweans.

The evictions, often brutal and arbitrary, were blamed for a collapse in agricultural production and chronic food shortages that forced the one-time breadbasket of Africa to become dependent on imports of staples.

Economic output fell by half following the start of the land seizures, as more than 4 000 of the country's white farmers were stripped of their land.



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