Mugabe echoes Mbeki's Zimbabwe land reform failures
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday took a swipe at unproductive new farmers, whom he alleged were using outdated farming techniques.
Officially opening the Harare Agricultural Show, Mugabe slammed resettled farmers for using Stone Age farming techniques.
“Tinoda machengeterwo emombe akasiyana neaiitwa nanasekuru vedu (We want to rear cattle in a different way from what our ancestors used to do),” Mugabe said.
“Now people with A2 farms are practising just like my grandparents but they have the knowledge and so many degrees.”
Zimbabwe has been on the edge since 2000, when Mugabe, now 89, ordered the seizure of white-owned farms.
The land seizures were widely seen as a move to bolster his sinking popularity.
White farmers, aid officials and Western diplomats agree that land redistribution was needed to undo colonialism’s legacy in Zimbabwe, where whites made up one percent of the population but owned 70 percent of the most fertile land. FROM P1
But they say the programme’s fast pace and Mugabe’s hardball tactics spawned violence and aggravated the food crisis. Some white farmers were killed during the land redistribution campaign. More than 4 000 were evicted without compensation, according to the Commercial Farmers Union.
Mugabe called on new farmers to “embrace new technologies in order to empower our agriculture.”
The Zanu PF leader admitted that the country’s livestock production was still stuttering and promised to assist farmers to jump-start the agricultural sector which used to be the mainstay of the economy before the advent of the land reform programme in 2000.
After chiding new farmers for employing archaic methods, Mugabe turned his focus on black farmers leasing out their properties to evicted white farmers.
“Let’s change our methods, zvanezuro zvekuti dai agriculture yafondoka varungu vadzoke tozoratidza mhuri yeZimbabwe kuti hatigone pasina varungu ndezvezvibwasungata zvinoda kuramba zvichiyamwa mazamu anaMrs.
Hatingarambe tichishandira bhunu ratisingazive kuti rakabva kupi. (What was happening in the recent past when some were saying agriculture should collapse in order to prove that blacks are not good farmers so as to bring back white farmers is a wishful thinking by sell-outs. We cannot continue working for the whites),” Mugabe said.
During the tenure of the inclusive government, Zanu PF rejected a land audit amid allegations from the MDC that several top government officials are multiple land owners.
Ex-minister of State in the President’s Office, Didymus Mutasa, who is also Zanu PF administration secretary, has said the three land audits he conducted had confirmed that the poor black masses were the major beneficiaries, not the cronies named in several audit reports; and therefore there was no need for another land audit.
Government did not take up an offer of $31 million from the European Union to bankroll the planned land audit.
The European Commission in Zimbabwe has said the EU was ready to fund an “inclusive, transparent and comprehensive land audit” but said no one had come forward to claim the money.
Fresh from winning an election albeit under controversial circumstances, Mugabe is pushing for yet another black empowerment programme targeting foreign firms similar to the land reform programme.
Mugabe was on cloud nine, boasting of his re-election for yet another term in a disputed poll.
He said he was glad the country had successfully co-hosted the world tourism indaba in Victoria Falls this week.
“The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which we successfully co-hosted with Zambia showed that nothing is enchanting and enduring as people united in achieving the same goals they have set for themselves,” said Mugabe. - Daily News