By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
03 July 2014
As the EU moves to re-engage with Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has said the few remaining white farmers must go adding that his message ‘should ring loud and clear in Britain and in the USA.’
According to Newzimbabwe.com, Mugabe said the white farmers ‘were living like Kings and Queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want it all.’
Speaking in Mhangura at the launch of the new permits for the small scale farmers Mugabe said an ongoing land audit, whose details were shown to him, has so far revealed that there were 35 white farmers in Mashonaland West alone and those farmers ‘should go.’ He said: ‘No to whites owning our land. They can own companies and apartments in our towns and cities but not the soil.’
Mugabe castigated cabinet ministers and traditional leaders who are in partnership with whites on farms that were allocated to them through the land grab exercise, saying they could lose their properties. He said partnership with whites ‘should never happen’ and government will ‘deal’ with the concerned ministers, urging Fortune Charumbira, the president of the Chiefs Council, to rein in his members.
Mugabe said government will not pay for the seized land because the white farmers ‘never paid for it in the first place.’ He also claimed that under the new tenure system the new black farmers will be assisted to access funding from the banks. He added that the new tenure system was’ a shield against Western machinations to reverse the land reform programme through the MDC-T.’
Economist Masimba Kuchera said Mugabe’s comments were ‘ill-timed’ and they will ‘not send a positive signal to investors and to people with an interest in the country.’ He added: ‘They also send a mixed message, especially considering that they come at a time when his government seems to be welcoming the idea of re-engaging with the rest of the World.’
However Kuchera said Mugabe’s comments were in keeping with his usual rhetoric when speaking to the villagers and rural farmers.
Commercial Framers Union President Charles Taffs said: ‘This, 34 years into independence, is extremely unhelpful to Zimbabwe as a country and sends a very bad message to any potential investor; it is just not conducive to growth.’
He added: ‘The country needs to change its narrative when it comes to issues regarding land and agricultural production because we are an economy in an absolute crisis. There is no time for racial divisions; we need to come together to find the country’s solutions.’
Mugabe’s rhetoric comes after the EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia, claimed that there was ‘no leadership crisis’ in Zimbabwe and chided the civil society for being ‘anti-government.’
It also comes after some indigenous whites, led by cricketer Heath Streak, blamed the West’s targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle for Zimbabwe’s decline.
But a statement from the Zimbabwe Social Democrats said Zimbabwe’s economic decline began when government seized the white-owned land and destroyed commercial agriculture and drove away investors. The party said ‘getting back the agricultural sector on track is one of the requirements for economic recovery.’