HARARE – Land invasions in whatever form will no longer be tolerated, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba warned on Tuesday as Zimbabwe continues to seek better ties with the West.
Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF government offered last year to return land to white commercial farmers whose properties were seized under the violent land reform programme two decades ago.
“Henceforth, no more land invasions in whatever form, place, or by whomsoever! Be warned!” said Charamba on Twitter following reports of sporadic invasions across the country over several months.
The late Manicaland provincial minister Ellen Gwaradzimba appeared before a parliamentary committee on lands last year after her son Edmore Mbuzana was accused of snatching part of a farm owned by Chipinge farmer Richard Le Vieux.
The grab was blocked by Cabinet. Gwaradzimba was also implicated in another invasion involving a tradition chief and a farmer in Odzi.
The Odzi chief, Kibben Bvirindi was alleged to have evicted Phillip Valentine with Gwaradzimba’s blessings. Valentine had to approach the High Court to save his farm.
Thousands of white farmers have been violently kicked out of their properties since 2000 by the Zanu PF government, infuriating Western capitals who are demanding compensation for the victims and a return to the rule of law.
Zimbabwe argued the seizures were meant to redress colonial-era land grabs from black people. But the chaotic program backfired and contributed to the country’s economic decline and ruined relations with the West.
As part of its re-engagement process with primarily the United States and Britain, the government launched a US$3.5 billion compensation scheme for dispossessed white farmers last September.
Still, the two countries insist on far-reaching economic, political and electoral reforms.