Fourteen years after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s administration first adopted a policy to repossess land from white farmers, the long-time leader has warned that more white people were likely to lose their land, as they could not be allowed to own land in the country.
In a chilling and foreboding message, Mugabe on Wednesday said “we will have no mercy for white people regarding the land, they cannot own our soil”.
Mugabe, in power since 1980, told thousands of black farmers that the whites are free to own companies and apartments in our towns and cities but not the soil.
He said the remaining white farmers enjoyed the protection of some of his ministers and warned of a renewed crackdown.
“There are white farmers who are still on the land and have the protection of some cabinet ministers and politicians as well as traditional leaders,” he said.
“That should never happen and we will deal with the ministers. I have been given a list of 35 white farmers in Mashonaland West alone and in just a few districts that have been audited. We say no to whites owning our land and they should go.
“It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States.”
Faced with a prospect of defeat in the 2000 general elections, Mugabe’s government adopted a much maligned fast track land reform programme that saw thousands of white farmers violently pushed out of the land they owned.
Mugabe’s government insists the land reform programme was meant to balance colonial imbalances, where blacks were forcibly removed of their land.
However, there are reports that some of the beneficiaries of Mugabe’s land reform routinely invite the former owners to lease the farms back, much to the disgust of one of Africa’s remaining strongman.
His pronouncements are likely to send jitters across the agricultural sector and the remaining white commercial farmers, who have argued that they did not benefit from colonialism.
The land reform programme triggered a capital flight, which Zimbabwe is yet to recover from.