By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
14 July 2014
ZANU PF Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has sought to downplay President Robert Mugabe’s rant against white people as a ‘misunderstanding’.
While addressing black farmers at Mhangura in Mash West recently, Mugabe said white people should not be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe. He said even those who were renting pieces of land from blacks should be kicked out.
“We say no to whites owning our land and they should go. They can own companies and apartments but not the soil. It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States.
“They whites were living like kings and queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it,” various media houses quoted Mugabe as saying.
However when Minister Mnangagwa was confronted over the issue by MDC-T Senator Lilian Timveos on Thursday, he said Mugabe had been misunderstood.
Speaking in the Senate, Timveos had asked whether it was constitutional for Mugabe to discriminate against white Zimbabweans when it comes to property ownership.
In a long response Mnangagwa said the senator and the media had misunderstood and what Mugabe had said was that “farmers, black or white, who have been issued with land and were sub-leasing to the whites who owned the land before; that is not allowed.”
Mnangagwa further claimed that some whites have been issued with offer letters, which means that they are entitled to hold land like any other Zimbabwean citizen.
“We have white farmers all over, who we have allowed to continue holding land and issued offer letters to them. So, we’re not in conflict with the constitution.”
He continued: “So Madam Senator, I hope that I have done some justice to your question and that the primary value is that, we as Zimbabweans are democratic, are Christian, are civilised and we do not apply the barbaric principles of the whites like when they occupied this country.”
Harare-based economist Vince Musewe said the ZANU PF administration should be harnessing the competence and skills that white farmers possess instead of constantly bashing them.
“They should accept that most of the land beneficiaries lack the capacity to fully utilise the land they were given. The problem we have is that ZANU PF keeps making decisions based on politics rather than economics.
“Mugabe has become a liability, both the people of Zimbabwe and his party and Mnangagwa’s attempts to fire-fight ring hollow because statistics on the ground prove that whites are being systematically excluded from the land sector.
“The party, its leader and its narrative is a liability to Zimbabweans. That is why they won’t allow any serious discussion about the economy or the land mess without always resorting to the rhetoric about colonial history and the past.
“They have nothing new to offer. The racist baggage that they are carrying is holding the country back and scaring away investors,” Musewe told SW Radio Africa on Monday’s the Zim We Want programme.