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Zimbabwe's 'New Farmers' Leasing Redistributed Land to Former White Producers

  • Gibbs Dube

Commercial Farmers Union Vice President Charles Taffs said some of his members are renting the same land they lost under land reform program in the past decade as a way to make a living doing what they know best

A growing number of the black farmers resettled on land taken from white commercial growers during Zimbabwe's chaotic and often violence land reform program since 2000 have started leasing land to some of the same farmers who were dispossessed during the decade-long exercise, agricultural sources say.

Commercial Farmers Union Vice President Charles Taffs said some of his members are renting land they lost under land reform program as a way to make a living doing what they know best. He said the arrangement is benefiting both landless white growers and newly resettled farmers who frequently lack expertise and capital.

The development came to light this week during debate in Britain's House of Lords during which Lord Anthony St. John said large numbers of white farmers were entering into agreements with black land beneficiaries which was somewhat spontaneously reviving Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, in decline for the past decade.

His comments upset some officials of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party who have threatened action against black farmers engaged in such deals. But some of those entering such agreements are ZANU-PF officials.

Taffs told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that because sub-leasing land to white commercial farmers is not a sustainable situation, Zimbabwe must come up with a new land policy applicable to all races.

South African-based agriculturist Mandla Nkomo said partnerships of this kind can do much to ensure that every hectare of productive land in the country is used, relieving shortfalls in staple grain production.

Meanwhile, ZAPU spokesman Methuseli Moyo said his party has teamed up with war veterans and villagers to block any further land grabs in Matabeleland region. “We think it is unreasonable for some of these farmers to be disempowered by misdirected people when in fact they are helping local people in various ways,” he said.

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