The approximately 600 farms in Zimbabwe that remain in the hands of white farmers have come under siege again as black farmers armed with letters from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement demand that their occupants vacate the premises.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is also in charge of the eight-year-old land reform program, heightened longstanding tensions recently by ordering the remaining white farmers to clear off their land or be arrested.
His order came despite long negotiations between farmers, Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo, Economic Development Minister Sylvester Nguni and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono – who financed winter wheat crops for many farmers.
But Mutasa, President Robert Mugabe’s land reform point man, has maintained a hard line on the nationalization of all farmland, regardless of its productivity at a time when the country faces massive shortfalls in staple maize and wheat crops.
But standing winter wheat crops are seen as a takeover incentive – land invasions often take place when valuable crops are close to being ready to harvest.
Minister Mutasa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there is no going back on land reform and that there is legislation to back his move.
Spokeswoman Emily Crookes of the Commercial Farmers Union said the majority of the white farmers still do not have official clearance to engage in farming.