Most of Zimbabwe’s white farmers were stripped of their land in often violent evictions that started in 2000. Now the remaining white farmers are on edge because of threats of new evictions linked to the country’s long-running political turmoil.
Mandi Chimene, a newly appointed provincial governor for Manicaland province, said at a rally this past weekend that she had evicted white farmers from 12 farms in the Headlands district alone, claiming they were being protected by the former vice president’s faction. Joice Mujuru was ousted from the ruling party congress in December after falling out of favor with the president and his wife.
Another newly appointed governor, Joe Biggie Matiza of Mashonaland East province, said he will take similar action by the end of this month.
However, human rights advocate and political analyst Gabriel Shumba said that linking the evictions to the Mujuru faction “is just political expediency by those seeking to evict them.” Shumba said, “White farmers are caught up because they are in possession of an asset that is in demand.”
The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents mostly white farmers in Zimbabwe, has sought a meeting with the lands minister over the evictions, said spokesman Hendricks Olivier. “The eviction of both black and white farmers is not good for the sector,” Olivier told The Associated Press. “We need a clear policy.”
Douglas Mombeshora, the lands minister, recently said black farmers can enter into joint venture with partners of other races. But vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa later delivered a conflicting message, warning of more evictions of white farmers. President Robert Mugabe has often spoken against joint farming partnerships between blacks and whites.
There are fewer than 300 white farmers out of the original total of 4,500, according to the Commercial Farmers Union. The land eviction program that targeted white farmers starting in 2000 was defended by Mugabe as necessary to correct land imbalances dating from the era of white rule, though the upheaval was blamed for mismanagement of Zimbabwe’s once rich agricultural economy.