The government of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, embroiled in a
worsening relationship of its own making with the country’s minority
whites, says it plans to confiscate 841 white-owned farms and
redistribute them to blacks who owned no land by the end of the month.
The announcement was made by Vincent Kwenda — Zimbabwe’s new
“director of land acquisition” in the office of the president — on
Wednesday as he toured the country explaining the new land-seizure law
passed by ruling party lawmakers last month. That law permits the
government to take the land without compensating landowners.
State-owned radio, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, reported
that Kwenda said landless blacks would be allowed to settle on the newly
acquired land before infrastructure projects like roads, water supplies
and schools would be added.
Sources in Zimbabwe said yesterday that it was not immediately clear
whether squatters on farms not included in the list of 841 would be
forced off that land or allowed to stay, or told to resettle on the
lands taken by Mugabe’s government.
Kwenda’s comments came despite a plan proposed by South African
President Thabo Mbeki, in which Saudi Arabia, Nordic countries and other
donors would contribute $14 million to pay 118 farmers who did not
contest seizure, but demanded fair compensation. According to reports,
the handling of the 118 farms in this way is supposed to serve as a
model of land reform and a way to settle the increasing violence, which
was caused by the Mugabe regime when it arbitrarily decided to
confiscate land earlier this year.
David Hasluck, director of the Commercial Farmers’ Union, said even
under the new land nationalization law, the state was required by the
constitution to give owners 30 days to respond to the proclamation. But
most private property and land ownership laws have largely been ignored
by the government anyway.
Meanwhile, Mugabe, speaking to reporters yesterday, reaffirmed his
support for the illegal occupation of the farms by black so-called “war
veterans,” though he said continued violence in the country could
undermine elections to be held June 24-25.
“We are actually very happy for them to be there,” Mugabe told about
500 veterans and supporters of his ruling ZANU-PF party in the capital
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe supports invasions of
Violence over the land seizures began in earnest last February, when
black veterans of the nation’s 1970s war for independence began invading
anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 of the 4,500 white-owned commercial farms.
Since then, violence has claimed the lives of five white landowners and
an undetermined number of black
opposition party members.
Late Wednesday night, Tony Oates became the fifth white landowner to die in the violence. He was shot after killing one of two black intruders, who authorities suspect were thieves.
Police said the death appeared to be unconnected with the land invasions, but farm union officials blamed the incident on the government’s failure to maintain law and order.
Also in WorldNetDaily today:
‘Zimbabwe in ruins,’ a commentary on the Zimbabwe crisis by Peter Hammond, a missionary who has pioneered evangelistic outreaches in the war zones of Angola, Mozambique and Sudan.