via Leave white farmers alone: Minister 17 September 2014
MANICALAND Provincial Affairs Minister, Chris Mushohwe, on Tuesday, warned villagers in Chipinge not to disrupt the operations of the few remaining white farmers in the province saying this could have disastrous repercussions on Zimbabwe’s already fragile economy.
President Robert Mugabe has, twice this year, demanded the removal of the few hundred white farmers remaining in Zimbabwe, recently declaring that those from Britain must return to the land of their ancestors.
Said the veteran leader: “Don’t they (whites) know where their ancestors came from? The British who are here should all go back to England.
“What is the problem? We now have aeroplanes which can take them back quicker than the ships used by their ancestors.”
But Mushowe said Zimbabwe could not afford to kick the farmers off the land and then import products such as milk from South Africa.
He was speaking at a field day at Mutema Irrigation Scheme in Middle Sabi where over 500 smallholder farmers have been engaged as banana out-growers by Matanuska Private Limited company. Matanuska is the country’s largest banana grower and exporter.
The minister told the gathering which comprised war veterans and Zanu PF supporters that disturbing the operations of the few remaining white commercial farmers will not be tolerated.
The war veterans spearheaded the chaotic and often violent land seizures around 2000 in a campaign that had the blessings of President Robert Mugabe.
Critics say the farm invasions fast-tracked Zimbabwe’s economic slide and resulted in massive food shortages countrywide.
Chipinge is one of the country’s agricultural hubs, with farmers engaged in production of timber, tea, coffee, sugarcane and citrus fruits.
The district also has dairy farms some of which were decimated during Mugabe’s land reform programme.
Mushohwe said the days of chasing white farmers off their land were over.
“The remaining white commercial farmers who are into timber, potato seed, and dairy production must not be disturbed because we need milk,” he said.
“We cannot continue to import milk from South Africa; we need to boost production and also export. This will also affect our economy if we disturb their operations.”
He said instead of decimating their operations, there was need for smallholder farmers to engage and work with the remaining white commercial farmers so as to gain knowledge and expertise.
“We want the few remaining white commercial farmers to work closely with resettled farmers and engage them on out-grower’s programmes.
“We are impressed by the Matanuska project because our people will be able to produce and export their produce to foreign markets,” said Mushohwe.
He urged commercial farmers to support the government’s empowerment initiatives through supporting their neighbouring black peasant farmers with knowledge and finance.
However, Mushowe warned that those who refused to cooperate with the new order will be kicked out of their farms.
“We will be calling them in October including Matanuska to table this new idea and those who reject are free to move out of the land.
“Of course, we will lose the milk but they will also lose the land. We want to share knowledge with our people,” said Mushohwe.
He also took a swipe at diamond mining firms for plundering the country’s natural resources without ploughing back to the communities.
“Recently I asked why diamond mining companies are not visible when it comes to social responsibility programmes.
“They want to keep blindfolding us with red cloth but we are saying we cannot have our people breathing dust daily.
“Let me warn those companies that we will not continue to talk but one day we will be ruthless,” said Mushohwe.