Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Tuesday, December 1, 1998 Published at 17:24 GMT

Land battle sets black against white

Tobacco farming provides half a million jobs

By Africa Correspondent Jane Standley

Some 18 years since victory in the war that turned Rhodesia into independent Zimbabwe, much awaited land reform has yet to be carried out.

Redistributing land has been on the political agenda since independence, but Zimbabwe's current economic crisis, the worst ever, has fuelled even more hunger for land.

Jane Standley reports from Harare on the struggle over land
Most black farmers are struggling to grow enough to eat on tiny plots, while the huge commercial farms growing tobacco, Zimbabwe's largest export, are in the hands of white Zimbabweans, like Wayne Parham, whose family have been farming in the country for three generations.

No-one in Zimbabwe is arguing about the need for land reform, even Mr Wayne supports land redistribution, but with a recent government notice that his land is going to be taken, insists that there must be proper compensation.

[ image: Wayne Parham - wants compensation]
Wayne Parham - wants compensation
"If they really want this farm, OK, that's fine now, pay me, and that's it," he says.

"We'll have to go somewhere else, and do it somewhere else, it's not that I am on the best soil or the best rainbelt or anything."

The next people on Mr Parham's land could be the Dambaza family, whose head, Constantine, has recently led his neighbours onto a nearby white farm, to squat and plant crops.

A lifelong member of the ruling party, he wants action, not more promises.

[ image: Constantine Dambaza - action, no promises]
Constantine Dambaza - action, no promises
"The war has been won, the freedom is ours," he says.

But the occupation does not last long. The government knows all too well that mass protest can turn against it, and the authorities call in the police.

As Constantine and his supporters are taken off to jail, the land they have sown with their own maze, is replanted with tobacco.

Due to the economic crisis, discontent with the government's rule is greater than ever before, and uncertainty in the countryside is likely to create more instability.

[ image: Tobacco is being replanted - land reform is far from complete]
Tobacco is being replanted - land reform is far from complete
Mr Parham is worried that the real issue behind taking his farm is political, and partly a legacy of a war fought between black and white.

"When is it going to be alright to buy a farm and actually develop the farm. Now there's got to be a time when I'm just perceived as a Zimbabwean," he says

That time, however, will only come when black Zimbabweans are satisfied that more of their land belongs to them.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

25 Nov 98 | Africa
Zimbabwe faces farming anarchy

21 Nov 98 | Africa
Zimbabwe unions step up demands

21 Nov 98 | UK
UK queries Zimbabwe's land grab

05 Dec 97 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe land reform row

Internet Links

Zimbabwe Government

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Mugabe's long shadow

Political conspiracy or economic mismanagement?

Mugabe's unpopular war

Land battle sets black against white

Mugabe faces economic anger

Meeting Mr Mugabe

Zimbabwe's history: Key dates