Mugabe worried about ‘backdoor’ takeover of land

By Lovemore Ranga Mataire

PRESIDENT MUGABE has derided some resettled farmers, who had bequeathed their farms to former commercial farmers under the guise of partnership saying the move was retrogressive.

Mugabe said this in a recent interview with the country’s national broadcaster, ZBC-TV, where he lamented that progress made in the land reform programme was being hampered by some unscrupulous resettled farmers, who have bequeathed operations on their farms to former commercial farmers.

“We are seeing in the agriculture sector quite a number of these surreptitious operations where they come and say, ‘you don’t have to worry if you have a farm. We can cultivate for you, stay where you are. Live in town. Live in town, we will do the work for you’,” said Mugabe.

He said the danger of bequeathing all operations to former commercial farmers was that after about five years, the former farmer may assume de-facto ownership of the farm.

“Stupid. Stupid we, isn’t it that we are doing that? That’s what we are doing. Is it because we are unable to commit ourselves to work? I know there are some who are genuine about farming and are doing farming even though in town they have some jobs to do, at the weekend like Friday, they go and ensure that their managers are doing the right things at the farms and stay on for some time and correct a number of things on the farms.

“And (some) have their own children in some cases but there are others who really have gone to sleep and the whites have taken over there. Sad isn’t it. ‘Saka pamaiti tinoda nyika maida kuti muzopa varungu zvakare’? (So when you said you wanted your country back you wanted to give it back to whites?),” said Mugabe.

He had no kind words for some chiefs and headmen, who are protecting some former farmers in their vicinity. He said in most cases, these farmers were cultivating the fields of the chiefs and headmen in order to secure their stay.

He said some chiefs were making frantic efforts to ensure that some remnant former commercial farmers remain on their farms claiming that the farmer is a member of the ruling party and is helpful to the community.

Reflecting on the words of former Vice President, the late Dr Joshua Nkomo’s death-bed wish to have land redistributed to the majority, President Mugabe said despite some hiccups, the land reform exercise has been largely successful.

He said if he was to meet his late struggle compatriot, he would be able to tell him that he had fulfilled his wishes and the task was now to ensure that there will not be retrogression and that those allocated land will keep it and ensure that it is productive.

Mugabe said he was generally satisfied with the fact that his government had taken most of the land from settlers and allocated it to indigenous African people.

February 2017
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