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EDITIONS
Friday, 6 September, 2002, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Land offer to Zimbabwe's whites
Anita McNaught met Prime Minister Ziguele
White Zimbabwean farmers suffering from President Mugabe's policy of land seizure have been offered a lifeline by a fellow African country, the Central African Republic.

Not only would the farmers be given a safe haven but their presence would help the Central African Republic develop and improve its agriculture, the government says.

Prime Minister Martin Ziguele told Anita McNaught on BBC's HARDtalk: "We will offer them land."

"My country has no problem with land.

"We are a country with 3.5 million inhabitants on 624,000 square kilometres. It's a very big country.

"For each kilometre of land we have less than one inhabitant. So we have land."

Agricultural potential

The Central African Republic is rich in natural resources including unspoilt rainforest and enjoys high levels of rainfall.


We are ready to host white people from Zimbabwe because we want to improve agriculture

Martin Ziguele
But it remains one of the least developed countries on the continent.

Mr Ziguele said that exploiting the rainfall to achieve clean drinking water and good irrigation, along with managing sustainable development of the forests, were the two most important issues to be addressed in the country.

He stressed that he and President Ange-Felix Patasse recognised that agriculture was key to improving the situation.

He said: "My President phoned me here yesterday and told me to tell everyone I meet that we are ready to host people... white people coming from Zimbabwe because we want to improve agriculture.

Zimbabwean turmoil

Robert Mugabe
President Mugabe has refused to back down on his land reform policies
White Zimbabwean farmers are gradually being stripped of their homes and livelihoods, and some have even been killed, as part of President Mugabe's plan to redistribute land to the blacks.

Although Mugabe has been widely condemned by the international community he has shown no sign of relaxing his campaign.

Prime Minister Ziguele said: "What is happening in Zimbabwe is not a very good example of what can be done in the sense of harmony between communities in a country."


It is important is to help Zimbabwean society find a solution around problems of land

Martin Ziguele
He condemned the situation, adding: "I don't agree with the way the problem is explained or solved."

He also said that the problem seemed "more emotional than rational".

"I think what is important is to help all components of Zimbabwean society to find a solution around problems of land."

The interview can be watched in full on Friday 6 September on BBC World and BBC News 24.



HARDtalk with Tim Sebastian is broadcast Mon - Friday on BBC World and BBC News 24
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