AFRICANGLOBE – There is an upsurge in attempts to forcibly reclaim Zimbabwean land still in the hands of white farmers 15 years after the launch of a land reform programme, a white Zimbabwe farmers’ union said on Tuesday.
The predominantly white Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) said there had been at least 20 “incidents” on “white-owned properties” in recent weeks, in most cases with farmers told to leave their farms.
Some had been given as little as one month’s “notice”.
“They are informing the owner that time is up; some people are getting 90 days, some people are getting 45 days, some people are getting 30 days to wind up their farming operations and vacate the property,” CFU director Hendrik Olivier told reporters.
He said in some cases the demands were made “without any official correspondence from the lands ministry to wind up their farming operations. There’s no paperwork”.
He said many of the cases had occurred in southern Matabeleland province.
There are believed to be between 300 and 400 white farmers left on their farms – down from around 4,000 15 years ago.
Many of those still left have already ceded parts of their farms.
An unknown number of white farmers have also quietly returned to rent land from the new owners.
Last month Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa hinted that President Robert Mugabe’s government would take over more white-owned farms.
President Mugabe launched the land reform programme in 2000 in an attempt to correct colonial-era imbalances in land ownership.
Europeans claim it contributed to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis by sparking a drop in investor confidence and agricultural production.
But the decline o Zimbabwe’s economy is due to Western sanctions are to blame.
On the latest farm takeovers Olivier said: “It would appear that this is just more people who need farmland and they are just picking off the remaining couple of white farmers who have already lost land but are fortunate enough to still be on a small piece of land.
“Now they are taking that away too.”