‘This is what we’ve been waiting for,’ Zim white farmers say as they welcome new land policy

‘This is what we’ve been waiting for,’ Zim white farmers say as they welcome new land policy

Source: ‘This is what we’ve been waiting for,’ Zim white farmers say as they welcome new land policy | News24

Harare – Zimbabwe’s remaining white farmers will now get 99-year land leases according to a new government policy that marks a dramatic change from widespread evictions of whites from farms.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is breaking away from the seizure of thousands of white-owned farms carried out by his predecessor and mentor Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November under military pressure. The new policy will give remaining white farmers new security from expropriations.

The lands ministry has instructed its provincial officers that the policy should be implemented “with immediate effect,” according to a copy of the directive seen by The Associated Press.

Mnangagwa’s move has been welcomed by many white farmers, who see it as a step toward restoring their involvement in Zimbabwe’s agriculture.

“This is what we have been hoping for,” said Peter Steyl, president of the Commerical Farmers Union. “Many of our members are ready to start farming again. The 99-year leases will bring a certainty that had been eroded by the invasions. There is a lot of technical expertise that had been idle. Bringing back evicted farmers will help unlock that much-needed expertise.”


Since 2000, Mugabe’s often violent land redistribution program saw the ruling ZANU-PF party, led by veterans of the 1970s war against white minority rule, evict most of Zimbabwe’s white farmers. The seizures were meant to redress colonial land ownership imbalances that were skewed against blacks, Mugabe said. Some in the international community responded with outrage and sanctions.

Land ownership is an emotional issue with political and racial overtones in this southern African country where under colonial Rhodesian rule whites were allocated the best agricultural land and blacks were pushed out to mostly arid land with poor soil.

Whites make up less than 1 percent of Zimbabwe’s population of 14 million, but until Mugabe’s seizures they owned huge tracts of the best farmland while blacks remained in largely marginal areas.

Of the roughly 4 500 white farmers before Mugabe’s land redistribution, only a few hundred are still working on farms, according to the Commercial Farmers Union. Mugabe also threatened to evict black farmers who cooperated with whites as partners or managers.


However, in a bid to revive the agricultural sector that has been a mainstay of the country’s economy for decades, Mnangagwa has sought accommodation with whites. He said resettled blacks are free to invite former white farmers as partners. Mnangagwa also said whites are free to apply for land to farm. The state owns all agricultural land and can issue leases, according to the Constitution.

Compensation of whites for infrastructure improvements on farms they used to own will also be paid, a policy started by Mugabe.

Since taking power with the help of the military in November, Mnangagwa has sought to reform Mugabe’s policies that soured relations with the West. These include revising an indigenisation law that compelled businesses and mines to cede majority shareholdings to local blacks and land ownership policies. Mnangagwa is actively engaging the West and local opposition figures.


  • comment-avatar
    Ndebele 5 years ago

    This sounds like a good time to move away from the Zanu Mujiba ridden CFU. Land that was bought and paid for and part and parcel of the good business system that underpins banking – property rights and security of tenure is now being washed away by the CFU Mujibas? What about the land that Zanu stole from the ZAPU and ZIPRA cadres? The ZAPU cadres did no wrong but were used as a Scape Goat by Mugabe and Zanu and their leaders placed in Jail to rot? Lookout Masuku dies as a result of the incarceration by Zanu. ED went to Masuku and Dabengwa whilst they were detained at Chikirubi for nearly five years – and offered them release if they joined Zanu PF and bought Zanu PF cards! Is this the way the CFU and the Commonwealth see Zimbabwe progressing to a democratic state? The USA was built on Title after the Civil War – because there was security of tenure. Now Zanu want to expropriate all the land that they have looted to death – and the people of Matabeleland are now supposed to celebrate this wonderful breakthrough? Why were the Zanu Government taken to the SADCC Tribunal and the International Court of Singapore – if some bright spark Mujiba in the CFU now thinks that he can now “give” all the Title to Zanu in exchange for a Zanu 99 year lease that they can tear up? On would have to wonder what the 20 000 victims of the Matabele Genocide think of this CFU Mujiba? We need to remember that three persons were shot at Joshua Nkomo’s home in Bulawayo by the Fifth Brigade after he managed to get away. Is this the best that the CFU can do for Law and Order?

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      Kutama 5 years ago

      Sixteen years ago a member of the CFU said “Zanu will destroy commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe and the economy in the process by destroying freehold Title. The one thing Zanu will never do is close down the CFU. Zanu will always use the CFU to peddle its agenda through the international press. Even when there is only one commercial farmer left – Zanu will quote the CFU!”
      Interestingly – there are only about 200 commercial farmers left – down from 4500 and true to type the Government and the Zanu CFU are talking as if they represent the entire Roman Empire?
      With 4300 farmers economically destroyed by the Zanu-Scoones Agro System – that member’s prediction is now about 95.55% correct!! The entire economy is totally rooted from 38 years of Zanu Looting and now they must be given more chances?

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    Doris 5 years ago

    Both comments are correct. Are the farmers going to get on their knees are grovel for crumbs thrown at them? Are they meant to give grateful thanks for swapping Title Deeds for land BOUGHT legally by the White farmers for 99 year leases? Imagine this. You have just bought a house in Borrowdale on an acre of land. Some hotshot bigwig decides he wants it. Kicks you out of your house be cause “your ancestor took that land from the blacks”. Then offers you a 99 year lease which means that you are now paying the government to stay on your own property? My point? Why aren’t private homes grabbed like the farms? They are also built on “Land Belonging to Blacks? “. Where do you draw the line with land grabbing?

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      Doris, their whole MO was that white Zimbabweans did not have the same rights as black Zimbabweans. As race is an accident of birth and not a decision, this policy was the essence of racism. It could never sustain in the real world. Mugabe (the brilliant man) and his crew could never see this, hence the destruction of Zimbabwe. Whether they like it or not, a Zimbabwean citizen should have equal standing under the law and in practice, irrespective of skin colour.

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    harper 5 years ago

    It is not just farmers who had their land and lively hood stolen, what about honest Civil Servants who had their jobs and pensions stolen?