5 December 2018

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Says Ready to Seize Idle Land Owned By Top Allies

Photo: The Herald Zimbabwe
A tobacco farm in Zimbabwe

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government was ready to seize and redistribute tracts of idle farmland mostly owned by his top Zanu PF allies.

This follows a land audit which unearthed multiple farm ownership by influential officials in violation of the one-man-one-farm policy by government.

"The land reform program is done and dusted," Mnangagwa said while addressing some traditional leaders in Kadoma on Monday.

"As government, we have embarked on a land commission audit. The audit has unearthed that most of the bigwigs have more than one farm."

To address the anomaly, President Mnangagwa said government was going ahead with plans to repossess the farms for redistribution to other Zimbabweans who did not benefit from the country's controversial land reform process in the past 18 years.

Mnangagwa also said his government would also move to downsize some of the farms considered too big.

"The preliminary reports have shown us that most senior officials within the party (Zanu PF) have more than one farm.

"As government, we are going to address the anomaly. We are going to repossess those farms and redistribute them. We are going to downsize on some of the farms.

"There are some individuals, very influential, whom we cannot name who have more than one farm and we are going after them," he said.

The Zanu PF led government, then under the now former President Robert Mugabe, in 2000 embarked on a violent land reform process which saw militant war veterans storm white owned farms and grabbing implements, livestock and farm houses.

The chaotic exercise saw some locals allocated pieces of land to both build homes and to fend for their families.

Some influential government officials and security bosses used their stamina to grab bigger and more fertile pieces of land with rich infrastructure while some even went for more than a single farm.

Although he led the one-man-one-farm mantra, then Mugabe was this year said to be owner of 21 farms, some of which he secretly leased to white farmers.

However, other reports linked the once feared leader to a total 13 farms under his and family ownership.

"I am still receiving evidence of what the (former) first family had. When that process is complete they will select one farm and the rest will be given elsewhere," Mnangagwa told the Independent Foreign Service in a wide-ranging interview August this year.

"It's not a question of voluntary giving up, but about complying with the policy."

Mnangagwa, who is often regarded as a reformist, has refused to return land into the hands of its former white owners saying the land reform process was "irreversible".

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