It is twenty years ago that former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe authorised the violent invasion of many white-owned farms justified on the grounds that he was redressing imbalances of the colonial era. At the time he promised his war veterans that beneficiaries would only get one farm, but according to BBC reports the ex-President and his family eventually owned 39 farms. The policy decimated a country that was once deemed to be the breadbasket of Africa and it is now incapable of feeding its own people. It did not only drive white farmers away; it also left the people who used to work their land without jobs or places to live. The changing of the guard in Harare from Mugabe to Emmerson Mnangagwa did little to inspire confidence and although the world briefly sat up waiting to invest in the devastated country, they lost interest as it became clear that Mnangagwa could not walk the talk on reform as he violently suppressed opposition. But Mnangagwa has decided to offer an olive branch to the white owners of 4,500 farms that have been seized, and said he would settle all outstanding claims against the government by offering them land. This is a stark lesson to the ANC government that is intent on proceeding with a policy of land expropriation without compensation in South Africa. It is currently engaged in a nationwide consultation process on EWC. There is a sea of red shirts worn by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters in all these meetings who are pushing the ANC towards a path that would be difficult to veer from. It would be prudent for the ANC to include its northern neighbour in its consultations and learn from the mistakes that Zimbabwe made on land restitution. – Linda van Tilburg
Zimbabwe gives land back to white farmers after wrecking economy
By Godfrey Marawanyika and Antony Sguazzin
(Bloomberg) – Two decades after President Robert Mugabe wrecked Zimbabwe’s economy by urging black subsistence farmers to violently force white commercial farmers and their workers off their land, his successor has thrown in the towel.
“The object of the regulations is to provide for the disposal of land to persons entitled to compensation,” Land Minister Perence Shiri said in regulations published in the Government Gazette Friday.
The seizures that began in 2000 were ratified by the government, which said they were needed to redress colonial imbalances. A vibrant agricultural industry that exported tobacco and roses and grew most of the food the nation needed collapsed. Periodic food shortages ensued, inflation became the world’s highest and the manufacturing industry was decimated. What was one of Africa’s richest countries became one of its poorest.
Almost 4,500 white-owned properties and others protected under government-to-government agreements were affected by the program.
The southern African nation this year budgeted about Z$380m ($21m) for compensation. Several farms that were protected under so-called Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements belonged to nations including the UK, South Africa, Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark.