Stolen farms stolen again

What is affected
Land Private
Type of violation Dispossession/confiscation
Date 02 June 2000
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country Zimbabwe

Affected persons

Total 5600
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative

“We were forced to leave our communal areas where we could sustain ourselves and were dumped on large pieces of land which we cannot afford to utilise. Now the government is threatening to take back the same land,” fumes Kundai, a beneficiary of Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme.

By Nkosana Dlamini,

Harare--Kundai is one of Zimbabwe’s black farmers given land seized from whites by the government. They now run the risk of losing it back to the government again because they`re failing to make productive use of it. Like many others, Kundai struggles every day to till hectares of land using an ox-drawn plough. Warning Until now the threat of re-redistribution has been just that - a threat. But recently it was revealed that Agriculture Minister Herbert Murerwa had given a farm back to a white farmer after it`s new black beneficiary had failed to utilise it.

“I want to warn all those who are not taking us seriously that we will repossess their farms if they do not do anything on them, expecting everything from the government,” Murerwa told a local online newspaper. The white farmer cannot be named for fear of victimisation by liberation war veterans, a militant section of President Robert Mugabe’s support base who spearheaded Mugabe’s violent land grab at the turn of the century.

Farm Machinery

The majority of poor land beneficiaries say the government has failed to fulfill its promises to supply them with the machinery needed to till large tracts of farmland. “They will never improve if there is no capital injection or resources,” said Kindness Paradza, a former legislator from Mugabe’s party, who is also a farmer.

Large quantities of farm machinery sourced in 2008 through Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank were distributed mainly to Mugabe’s top allies within the government, the judiciary and the military. They were given tractors, harvesters and diesel power generators while the ordinary farmers without powerful connections got ox driven carts and hoes.

Seeds, diesel, fertilisers and other chemicals were also given freely to some black farmers in an effort to boost agricultural produce. The problem is that the top officials who benefited never took farming seriously. They would resell the chemicals and diesel on the black market for a quick buck.

Zimbabwean banks also have refused to give loans to poor black farmers, most of whom lack the expertise and capital to work the land on a commercial scale. Secret lease deals Now, the government wants the black farmers who did receive support to plough back their profits into farming.

Following threats by the government, some land beneficiaries have entered into secret lease deals with the former land owners. But this has sparked fury within Mugabe’s regime, which is at pains to convince the world the land re-distribution programme has been successful.

The fast-track land seizure campaign that began in 2000 was marred by violence, murder, theft and arson. Out of more than 6000 white farmers in Zimbabwe in 2000, less than 400 still occupy their land. Zimbabwe’s economy is said to have shrunk by 50 percent following the destruction of agriculture, the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy.

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