Crisis-hit Zimbabwe is begging the white farmers they forcibly evicted to return and reclaim their farms, as the southern African nation’s economy continues to deteriorate.
This comes fifteen years after the Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean government seized large swaths of land from white farmers in the country – a move that saw a drastic deterioration in the country’s economy.
According to The Telegraph, Minister of Lands Douglas Mombeshora said provincial leaders had been tasked to come up with names of white farmers they wanted to remain on their farms. The farms should be “of strategic economic importance“.
“We have asked provinces to give us the names of white farmers they want to remain on farms so that we can give them security of tenure documents to enable them to plan their operations properly,” Mombeshora said.
The report said those who benefitted from the land grabs will in future be expected to pay a small rental per acre, which will be used to pay compensation to evicted white farmers.
Fin24 reported late last year that Mugabe’s administration was willing to compensate white farmers and to clarify its indigenisation laws.
News24 reports that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.
The news comes as South Africa threatens to follow in Zimbabwe’s doomed footsteps in kicking white farmers off their land.
South Africa is teetering on the brink of a race war after President Jacob Zuma called on parliament to pass a law allowing white-owned land to be “confiscated” by blacks without any form of compensation.
The president’s comments caused outrage among white landowners, with the chairman of a national group for Afrikaans speaking farmers warning the new law will be “a declaration of war.”
“We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.”
The Telegraph report: Mr Zuma has lurched from one scandal to another since being elected to office in 2009, and has adopted a more populist tone since his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party suffered its worst election result last August since the end of apartheid in 1994.
The party lost the economic hub of Johannesburg, the capital Pretoria and the coastal city of Port Elizabeth to the moderate Democratic Alliance party, which already held the city of Cape Town.
The ANC is also under pressure from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema.
Mr Malema has been travelling the country urging black South Africans to take back land from white invaders and “Dutch thugs”.
He told parliament this week that his party wanted to “unite black people in South Africa” to expropriate land without compensation.
“People of South Africa, where you see a beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” he said. Although progress has been made in transferring property to black South Africans, land ownership is believed to be skewed in favour of whites more than 20 years after the end of apartheid.
Mr Zuma’s comments caused outrage among groups representing Afrikaans speaking farmers on Friday.
The Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, which claims to have 40,000 members, said its members would take land expropriation without compensation as “a declaration of war”.
“We are ready to fight back,” said Andries Breytenbach, the group’s chairman. “We need urgent mediation between us and the government. If this starts, it will turn into a racial war which we want to prevent.” HaTTiP