Union opposed to South Africans looking for opportunities in Zim

File: The Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe has called on the government to give preference to its members and not people from outside. Photo: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
JOHANNESBURG – The Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe said it was against people in South Africa who want to cross the border and gain from the country’s agricultural opportunities.
The union called on the government to give preference to its members as the country works to stabilise the economy.

“We know that there are people in South Africa who want to come across the border and there are people who even claiming to be agents saying we will find agriculture opportunities in Zimbabwe. We would as a union discourage that because of the basis that we want our farmers to be given opportunities.

“The problem is these investments need money and money is not available locally. There will be interest from outsiders and we hope that in due course there will be necessary measures that will be in place,” said CFUZ’s Ben Gilpin. More than 4000 white-owned farms were repossesed without compensation in the country and about 300 white commercial farmers remained in Zimbabwe after the massive land invasions that began in 2000.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has announced that white commercial farmers would be given 99-year leases from the limited five-year contracts they had under the Mugabe administration.

The CFUZ said its members should be given priority under the new policy and it believes that the country has a potential to recover.

“I think what was expressed by the President was a need for national healing and we look for that process too. We would rather see a Zimbabwe  that heals than one that continues to suffer from the hurts of the past,” said Gilpin. A farmer and rights activist Ben Freeth said he was concerned that oppressive laws remained in place.

“Nothing has really changed, there’s been a right noise made and obviously the Smarts-family going back to their land that’s one case. But in the vast majority of cases the situation is normal, it has been the same like in the past years.

“We need a return to rule of law in this country, we need a scrapping of laws that are adverse to investment, adverse to production, adverse to employment. And until those laws are scrapped nothing has changed,” he said.

The 99-year lease programme and Mnangagwa’s pledge to compensate white commercial farmers for improvements made to seized land may represent a policy shift.

But Freeth said many were still unclear how everything would work. – eNCA