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Zimbabwe Gives Land Leases to Evicted White Commercial Farmers

Some white commercial farmers attending a meeting in Harare in this undocumented file photo

In what some see as a complete climb-down, the government has reportedly started to issue leases to white commercial farmers.

Land and Rural Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora told the Sunday Mail newspaper that they have identified farmers they deemed to be of “strategic economic importance”.

About 200 white commercial farmers are believed to be still in the country following the controversial land reform program in Zimbabwe that forced most of them to leave the country.

Ben Freeth, a white commercial farmer and spokesman for the Southern African Development Community Tribunal Rights Watch, said he was not aware of any white farmer who has benefited from this development so far.

“We have read the reports and heard about this for a long time now, but at this stage there hasn’t been anything that I know of anywhere on the ground where a white farmer has received a lease of this nature, so we don’t know at this stage whether there is some truth behind this,” Freeth said.

Freeth said farmers, who would be engaged under this program, should celebrate only if they get bankable leases.

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Agronomist and independent political analyst, Bernard Manyadza, told VOA Studio 7 the government’s decision to recall these white farmers is a clear admission that its land redistribution program has failed.

“This land reform was done haphazardly, without proper direction, without proper planning,” Manyadza said.

He added that it was bordering on anarchy and people were now realizing that they probably made a big strategic mistake.

Manyadza said what is needed now is to put back Zimbabwe at its rightful place as the so-called breadbasket of Southern Africa, through its abundant skilled citizens and government commitment.

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