Zimbabwe President says ‘no going back on land reform, Zimdollar’

HARARE  – President Mnangagwa on Wednesday stressed that land reform was irreversible and the Government would not substitute the local currency — the Zimbabwe dollar — despite machinations to destabilise and destroy it.

According the State media, Mnangagwa made the remarks when he addressed a rally at Bumhira Secondary School in Nyanga North after having commissioned Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme earlier in the day.

President Mnangagwa’s remarks come in the wake of a recent move by the Government to enact a law which invoked a clause stating that indigenous farmers whose farms were appropriated by Government under the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme can now apply to repossess their land under the newly-gazetted regulations.

Farms which were protected under Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), including those owned by indigenous corporates, could also be returned to their previous owners upon application for repossession.

Interestingly, the clause did not seem to go well with MDC-Alliance legislators, Tendai Biti and Innocent Gonese who on Wednesday challenged Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos to explain why they were returning land to white former farmers.

The move was a surprise climbdown from the MDC’s original stance on the land reform, which their party had always objected to and even sought the intervention of Western governments through the imposition of sanctions.

In terms of Statutory Instrument 62 of 2020 — Land Commission (Gazetted Land) (Disposal in Lieu of Compensation) Regulations, 2020 — former landowners under these categories can either opt for repossession or monetary compensation.

Mnagagwa said the country had sanctions imposed on it for repossessing its land.

“They have imposed sanctions on us because we repossessed our land. Let me be categorically clear that the land reform programme is irrevocable. Our people got their land back, with or without hunger; with or without bumper harvests we took back our land. We will have our land forever.

“Nothing will change that. Nobody will remove us from our land. So those who want to re-engage with us must admit that the land of Zimbabwe belongs to the people of Zimbabwe. There is no negotiation on that issue. We went to war because of the land. The land is the heritage for our future generation. We must teach our children to be patriotic. Our children should love their country just as Americans and Chinese love their countries,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the Government would not go back on the use the Zimbabwean dollar — as the country cannot develop without its own currency.

The country, he added, would continue implementing measures to safeguard the Zimbabwe dollar against the backdrop of various machinations to destabilise and destroy it.

“To prosper as a nation, we must have our own currency. We cannot develop and prosper without our own currency. They may plot to destroy our currency, whatever they do, let me make it categorically clear — we will not go back on the currency issue. We will continue until our currency stabilises and strengthens. It is only with our local currency that we can develop as a nation. The American currency can only develop America, the Rand can only develop South Africa, the Pula can only develop Botswana, the Kwacha can only develop Zambia and the metical can only develop Mozambique. And in Zimbabwe, can we continue to depend on other people’s currencies? No. We will continue to promote our own currency,” said President Mnangagwa.

Government recently introduced measures to stabilise foreign exchange trading, exchange rates and inflation.

The planned policy interventions were part of the de-dollarisation roadmap and came as a result of a recent surge in the black market exchange rates driven by a bulge in Zimbabwe-dollar holdings by a small group of corporates and an official foreign exchange trading platform that needed to be more transparent and effective.

The President emphasised that while the new dispensation was willing to engage, and re-engage, it would not tolerate a process with conditions attached.

“The new dispensation is eager to engage and re-engage. We will continue to engage those who never engaged with us. We are saying let us reason together and see where we wronged each other and made us enemies. We must engage with all willing countries worldwide.

“Members of the international family, let us engage, let us dialogue, let us have a conversation and move forward. Zimbabwe wants to be reintegrated into the family of nations, so we must engage. And when we say we want to re-engage, we mean there are some who were engaged with us who have disengaged,” he said.