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Opposition Party Says Zimbabwe Land Reforms Ruined Vibrant Economy

  • Gibbs Dube

FILE: Communal farmers cultivate maize crops in Mvuma district, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, Jan. 26, 2016.

FILE: Communal farmers cultivate maize crops in Mvuma district, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, Jan. 26, 2016.

A member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) claims that President Robert Mugabe’s government completely ruined the country’s economy when it introduced the controversial land reform program in 2000.

In a Studio 7 political panel, George Mkhwanazi, deputy PDP spokesperson, said it is worrying that the government is currently failing to feed the nation due to the controversial invasion of commercial farms once owned by white farmers.

“I am talking here about Robert Mugabe who presided over the land issue in Zimbabwe until there was nothing in the farms … The government of Zanu PF allowed the land issue for a long time to continue unresolved until such a time that they thought they would leverage on the land issue when they were suffering pressure that was caused by the formation of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) around 1999 and 2000.

“That’s when all of a sudden they remembered that there was something called the land which had to be distributed to the people and then they embarked on that chaotic exercise that caused the kind of tragedy that Zimbabwe has suffered since 2000.”

But Zanu PF legislator Joseph Tshuma dismissed Mkhwanazi’s remarks saying he is a staunch supporter of Western nations, which imposed sanctions on President Mugabe and his inner circle following allegations of gross human rights violations.

He said Zimbabwe tried to have a reasonable land reform program after Britain allegedly reneged on previous agreements on transforming agriculture in the country to embrace the majority black population.

“We tried to make sure that this thing was done properly. You must also know by the way that we had never experienced any land reform or any land invasion, which way you want to think about it. So, we were not going to have a proper formula. We did it haphazardly because we did not have any precedent to follow.”

But Mkhwanazi said Tshuma is just singing for his supper. “Tshuma needs to be educated. I don’t know how much time he still has to go to school. But the truth of the matter is that Zimbabwe was a thriving economy before Zanu PF took over. There was a throbbing industry in Bulawayo and everywhere else. Where is Dairibord today? Where is CSC (Cold Storage Company)? Where is Hwange Colliery? Where is Zisco(steel)?

“These were companies that were providing jobs. Right now in Zimbabwe the unemployment rate is around 90%. Where have you seen a country that survives on informal trading because somebody decided that he was going to transfer state resources to individuals in his cabal of a party? So, that’s the kind of a person celebrating his birthday today and he thinks that we are going to hail and salute that.

“We are not going to do that, we are going to condemn, point fingers at somebody who has presided over the death of what was a beautiful country. Shame on Zanu PF, shame on Robert Mugabe.”

Reacting to these remarks, Tshuma said Mkhwanazi is dancing to the tune of his Western masters.

“Like what he said that I was singing for my supper, he is trying to look for food from the white men out there. But the truth of the matter is that President Mugabe did very well. It’s his birthday and we salute him and we wish him very well and we thank God for the next two years (term in office) and it is very clear that this is a God-given man. Most people at 80 can hardly walk up straight actually and for him to be 92 and still walk up straight is amazing. It shows that this is a God-given man.

“God has a mission with him and we will keep on praying that God manifests himself through his leadership and Zimbabwe will come right again whether you like it or not, whether you are there or not.”

Zanu PF on Saturday hosted an $800,000 birthday party for the president at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, Masvingo province, devastated by drought. The 92 year-old President Mugabe has been in power for more than 35 years.

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