Mugabe: no land for white men

Mugabe: no land for white men

Mugabe’s rhetoric appears to turn his controversial land reform plans into full-on revolution mode, as divisive plans for the land redistribution of private property next door in SA gain momentum

Mugabe: no land for white men

White farmers were at the forefront of President Robert Mugabe’s aggressive rhetoric once more last week, as the aging leader declared that they should no longer be allowed to own any land in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe underlined that he was opposed to whites owning soil, but conceded that he was not opposed to the ownership of companies and real estate.

“We say ‘no’ to whites owning our land, and they should go. They can own companies and apartments in our towns and cities but not the soil. It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States,” Mugabe said to qualify his views.

Since 2000, Zimbabwe’s 4000 white farmers have faced increased isolation, intimidation, violation and widespread displacement as part of an all-out land reform programme – justified as the alleged correction of past colonial interference.

But as a result, the country’s agriculture suffered an immediate skills shortage, which led to one of the worst famines in Southern Africa’s modern history as well as creating to crippling economic consequences in its aftermath, which have continued to plague Zimbabwe until today. In the past decade-and-half, impoverished Zimbabwe has witnessed the greatest currency devaluation in contemporary times and has been subject to scathing sanctions from the European Union as well as the United States of America.

But these facts seem to have little effect in the hallways of parliament in Harare, as Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF continue to push land reform changes even against the will of some government officials and other supporters.

“There are white farmers who are still on the land and have the protection of some Cabinet ministers and politicians as well as traditional leaders. That should never happen, and we will deal with ministers. But as for our chiefs we do not want to harass you. We do not want trouble.”

The nonagenarian leader furthermore pinned his motivation for the uncompromising reforms on disagreements with the UK, saying that under Tony Blair’s Labour Party leadership from 1997 onwards relationships between the two countries reportedly went sour after Blair demanded that the former British colony includes the financial compensation of its white farmers in its land reform plans.

“We will not pay for our land and we will not ask our people to pay for it because they never paid for it in the first place. I pleaded with him to review his decision, but he was a boy from the street with no experience so he stuck to his guns. I was not amused and told him to keep his England and we would keep our Zimbabwe,” Mugabe recalled the nature of the fallout between the two countries.

“They were living like kings and queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it.”

Meanwhile next door in South Africa, the contentious issue of land reform is also gaining momentum following the re-opening of the land claims process until  30th June 2019. In addition to allowing to applications to be launched, the government is also considering a new approach to deal with land disputes; based on a government paper, SA Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti wants white farmers to release half their land to be given away to workers. Opponents of the suggested policy have cited the same economic consequences as their chief concerns for this plan as the scenario that played itself out in Zimbabwe.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said: “[It] will exacerbate insecurity, destroy jobs, escalate the already catastrophic exodus of farming expertise from the industry, and have dire implications for food security.”