31 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Racist Land Policies Fatal for Economy, Warn Analysts

Photo: The Herald Zimbabwe
A Tobacco farm in Zimbabwe (file photo).

Analysts have described a government policy pronouncement which provides for long term leases to black farmers and short term ones for their white counterparts as discriminatory and bad for the economy.

Under the arrangement, the remaining 400 farmers will be issued with five year leases while their counterparts receive 99 year bankable leases.

Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora also told chiefs on Saturday that all partnerships with whites, should black farmers consider them, must be approved by his ministry.

However, president Robert Mugabe emphasized that Zimbabweans with farms who are unable to utilise the land should surrender it back to state than enter into partnerships or lease it to white farmers.

Political commentator Maxwell Saungweme said the policy is discriminatory and borders on illegality as those farmers have Zimbabwean citizenship.

"The whites are Zimbabwean too and a government policy must be inclusive and not discriminatory.

"The policy confirms Mugabe's anti-white position and reverses all rhetoric about reconciliation," said Saungweme.

He added that the development negates the existence of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko's Ministry of National Healing and Reconciliation.

"It also makes Mphoko's ministry a political jester. This policy is not anti-West but anti-white Zimbabweans hence a dividing than uniting one."

Commenting on the implication of the policy on the economy, Saungweme said, "Where a government promulgates discriminatory policies, development partners such as World Bank, and other donors won't provide financial support to such programmes that go against principles of inclusiveness and non-discrimination they hold dear.

"It's another low for Zimbabwe and the Zanu PF regime."

Before the unplanned chaotic land reform of which started in the year 2000, there were more than 4,500 white commercial farmers who were largely keeping the country's economy afloat by generating the foreign currency required for key imports.

Since then, the country has struggled with serious foreign currency shortages.

Mike Mavura, a visiting politics lecturer at Rhodes University, said the land reforms programme represented a political reformulation of Zimbabwean citizenship based on race and party loyalty.

"Zanu PF political logic clouds judgement and so through pronouncements such as the minister's, we have shifted from nationalism (President Mugabe's early 80's let's turn our swords into plough shares speech) to nativism based on race and party loyalty," he said.

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