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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Zimbabwe: What future for white farmers?
Many of Zimbabwe's white farmers are staying on their land in defiance of an order to stop working and leave their homes.
The order came into effect at midnight on Monday and the farmers now have 45 days to leave their farms or face imprisonment under a deadline imposed by Zimbabwe's government.
The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) says farmers do not want to leave their crops to rot at a time when a severe food shortage is affecting millions of Zimbabweans
The confiscation of white-owned farms was begun by President Robert Mugabe over two years ago.
What is the future for white farmers in Zimbabwe?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I'm a Zimbabwean, my parents are still on their farm, for the meantime, and the truth that I really hear and see is shocking. Blacks, against their will, have been forced onto land and left there with no resources. In December this resulted in the starvation of two black children as their father waited for 'his government' to provide the necessary resources so he could start farming and avoid starvation, not only of his family but the nation.
It would not be so bad if the land was really going to the people who needed it and not to those from Mugabe's political party and the people in the current government.
Zimbabwe's current population is 11 million and remember here we are talking about just 2,900 farmers who own 30% of the country's agricultural lands. What is more is these are the most fertile lands in the country. So can anyone argue that having 2,900 people sharing 30% of the most fertile land is fair?
The UK government and the EU should assist the white farmers and their families, politically and economically, so as to give them a chance to start a new life elsewhere. There seems to be nothing, at this time, that could save Zimbabwe from an inevitable self-inflicted disaster.
What I can't understand is why it took so long. White farmers make up 5% of the population yet controlled 90% of the land, and this was 20 years after independence. Their chickens are coming home to roost.
Land reform has always been an issue in Zimbabwe, and there was a terrible unjust disparity of ownership between white and black. But surely land reform could have been done in conjunction with education in modern factory farm methods and an ordered exchange of land.
Instead, the people of Zimbabwe and many of their neighbours face starvation.
They will be the victims of Mugabe's ego and hate. The tragedy is that it will be decades before Zimbabwe could ever recover.
I wonder if there was as much uproar as is there is now when white men first went to Africa and stripped the people of their land? The white minority have absolutely no rights to the majority of the land in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is simply carrying out an agrarian land reform, which is no more than re-distributing land back to the people, so that they can use the crops for food, to prevent starvation, and so that they can sell any surpluses. White farmers were selling crops for their own personal wealth, to the detriment of the Zimbabweans. The white farmers should just leave, as they have no right to be there at all.
It's easy for us to sit back and watch in wonder, while a country is run by a person who seems to only want to better his own situation, and that of the minority of his country. I believe giving land to those less fortunate is a good idea, what I don't agree is the way the government is going about do so. Mugabe refuses to see/accept what is happening to his country, as he is not one of the majority that is facing starvation or poverty! Maybe if someone gave him a piece of his own medicine, he might not take such harsh steps to "better" his country.
White farmers? what about the 300 000 black farm labourers? What about their families - an average of five people per family? Less than 5% of farm labourers have been offered land on which to settle.
What about the vast tracts of un-utilised government owned land?
And why have senior politicians, policemen, army officers and judges been given whole farms, cherry-picked from the many that have been taken?
And why has the rest of the world done NOTHING - apart from imposing the oxymoronically named "smart sanctions"?
Sadly, I fear there is no hope for the farmers, but then there's no hope for the starving millions either! What good is it to take a good, knowledgeable person (whatever their colour) off their land and give it to someone who doesn't have a clue about "big-scale" farming? It appears that Mugabe has cut off his nose to spite his face!
Mr Holdaway's comments expose the destructively naive and quite incorrect view that the farm acquisitions are intended to redress past imbalances of power and opportunity. These latest prohibitions to working the land will inevitably condemn thousands to death through starvation, and to suggest any academic defence to the contrary is a profound insult to the people of Zimbabwe.
When will people like Ken Holdaway realise that this is not about "Africans taking back their land" but simply about an old man desperate to cling on to power by any means. He should understand that whilst the plight of the white farmers is given more prominence in the media, dreadful atrocities, including torture and murder are being committed daily against ordinary Zimbabweans of all colours. Zimbabwe, indeed Africa as a whole, totters on the brink of destruction and we Africans (of all colours) who have been exiled can only watch in despair as our fellow countrymen die in their millions from Aids, famine and war.
Time for change in Africa. It was only a matter of time before Africans took back the land. Full circle!
24 Jun 02 | Africa
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