The Zimbabwean government is reportedly repossessing farms from “unproductive land reform beneficiaries and redistributing it to land-hungry Zimbabweans”.
According to the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper, the redistribution of land was aimed at enhancing agricultural production in the southern African country.
At least 38 farmers had already been notified by the lands and rural resettlement ministry that their offer letters would be revoked soon.
President Robert Mugabe, 93, and his Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
Mugabe said at the time that the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
Chaotic land reforms
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.
Economists blamed the chaotic land reforms for the country’s economic downturn but Mugabe maintained that his administration was correcting colonial imbalances.
The Sunday Mail quoted Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora as saying that there were more than 500 000 applicants awaiting resettlements.
“We have been flighting notices in newspapers where we are advising offer letter holders who are not using their land that we intend to cancel those offer letters.
“What we are doing now is identifying farms and plots where land is not being utilised at all or not being used to its potential with a view to distributing it to others,” Mombeshora was quoted as saying.
This came just a few weeks after Mugabe threatened to embark on fresh land grabs targeting a few white commercial farmers still remaining in the country.
‘Most Zimbabweans were in need of land’
Addressing thousands of his ruling Zanu-PF party supporters in the farming town of Marondera recently, the nonagenarian said white commercial agronomists who still remained on the farms should be removed from their properties because most Zimbabweans were in need of land.
“We told (former British premier) Tony Blair to keep his England and we keep our Zimbabwe because land is our heritage. We have discovered that in Mashonaland east province alone there are 73 white commercial farmers who are still occupying some farms when our people do not have land,” said Mugabe.
“We are going to take those farms and re-distribute them to our youths, some of whom did not benefit from the land reform programme but the land would not be enough for everybody. We are also going to take away the land from small scale purchase farmers who are not utilising those farms for re-distribution.”