Cape Town – President Robert Mugabe has reportedly vowed that whites will never be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe, saying the few remaining white farmers must go.
According to newzimbabwe.com, Mugabe said Zimbabwe was no country for whites as far as land was concerned.
The veteran leader said this as he opened a new chapter in the country’s controversial land reform programme. Mugabe on Wednesday launched A1 settlement permits, which ensure that farmers have security of tenure.
The permits allow new farmers to access agricultural funding from financial institutions.
A Zimbabwe Mail report quoted Mugabe as saying whites in Zimbabwe could only be allowed to own companies, industries and apartments.
Mugabe’s latest pronouncements are likely to send jitters across the agricultural sector and concern the remaining white commercial farmers, some of whom have argued that they never benefitted from colonialism.
His remarks, however, contradict statements made by Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere last month that the country will no longer engage in farm grabs.
Kasukuwere said no more farms or properties owned by westerners would be grabbed.
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
At the time, 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.