Race still an issue for farmers in Zimbabwe
March 02 2006 at 01:19PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's vice-president says the country's
remaining white farmers would be spared eviction if
they toed the line and respected the law, local media
reported on Thursday.
"We cannot remove every white man in this country,"
Vice-President Joseph Msika was quoted as telling a
"If you think it's possible, that will not happen.
We will respect those white people who respect our
laws and want to live with us," the private local
newspaper quoted him.
The state-owned Herald further quoted Msika as saying:
"We cannot remove every white farmer because it's
stupidity. That is shooting yourself in the foot."
No more than 600 white farmers remain in Zimbabwe
following controversial land reforms which saw the
eviction of at least 4 000 of their peers to pave the
way for land redistribution to poor blacks.
Msika also lashed out at lazy black farmers who
invaded white farms and seized properties and then
failed to produce anything.
"Some of you when you take these farms, you don't make
use of them," The Herald quoted Msika as saying.
"Don't just evict someone who is farming productively
because they are of a different race."
Msika's statements came weeks after Land Minister
Didymus Mutasa said no white farmers were "farming
legally" and urged them to seek permission from the
government to continue work after constitutional
reforms barred dispossessed farmers from seeking legal
Msika attacked new farmers for their heavy dependence
on government handouts.
"We don't want to build a nation of beggars," Msika
said, urging the farmers to "cultivate the land."
Zimbabwe's land reforms, which began often violently
in 2000 after the rejection in a referendum on a
government-sponsored draft constitution, have seen
some 4 000 white farmers lose their properties.
Critics say the majority of the beneficiaries of the
land reforms lack farming skills and rely on
They also blame the land reforms for the chronic food
shortages in what was once southern Africa's bread
At least four million of Zimbabwe's 13 million people
require food aid until the next harvest in May. -