Land Grabs Targeting White Farmers Continue in Zimbabwe

Washington, DC

Zimbabwe’s black president Robert Mugabe has launched a new campaign to seize land from the country’s white farmers.

When he celebrated his birthday on February 28 with a $1.2 million extravagant party and anti-white tirade, Mr. Mugabe reportedly vowed to extend the brutal and disastrous land grabs, which have seen thousands of white farmers pushed out of their farms since 2000, to game reserves in Zimbabwe.

“Zimbabwe has lots of safaris but very few are African,” said Mr. Mugabe, according to The Telegraph. “Most are white-owned. In our region, we have the most safaris and animals. But we are now going to invade those forests. Our people cannot keep suffering.”

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, said that unless the U.S. lifted economic sanctions imposed since 2002, he would not allow white game reserve owners to stay in Zimbabwe.

His administration signaled in January the land grabs would continue until every remaining white-owned farm was taken, according to media reports.

“Those with multiple farms, we will take them, the few whites on farms, we will look into that and those with big farms, we will cut to size,” said Mr. Mugabe’s new deputy and likely successor, the former defense minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, NewsDay reported.

Mugabe echoed those comments on his birthday in February, saying the land invasions would carry on until every remaining white-owned farm was evicted, according to a recent newsletter from the U.K.-based Christian charity known as the Mike Campbell Foundation (MCF).

“We have documented 40 in-depth and very harrowing stories of farm take-overs. This has not been easy as farmers are very reticent to speak about what has happened to them and their workers,” wrote Ben Freeth, executive director of MCF, in the newsletter.

“They become extremely emotional writing down their stories, detailing the loss of everything they owned, and the unjust system that has caused that loss,” he continued. “They are also very frightened of what might happen to them when they name the perpetrators, many of which are high-profile government ministers and officials.”

Freeth indicated that the United Nations should investigate the comments Mugabe made on his birthday.

“The latest racist pronouncements by President Mugabe at his 91st birthday extravaganza — that all remaining white-owned farms should be taken and white-owned wildlife and tourism concerns should be invaded — shows how important and urgent it is for a sponsor country to ask the UN to investigate,” he said. “There is an upsurge in jambanja (strategized violence) situations all over the country at the moment to terrorize and force the white farmers and their workers off the land.  Please pray for the rule of law to return.”

MCF consistently asks people to pray for those affected by the land grabs, which besides the white farmers, include black farm workers who have been devastated by the evictions, losing their jobs and homes.

Reportedly, Farm workers represent MCF’s “target beneficiary population.”

The MCF newsletter mentions that the charity has been able to hire lawyers in Washington, D.C. to take their case to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party launched land reforms in 2000 that involved violent evictions of white farmers to give their property to landless blacks.

The Zimbabwe president said that the land grabs were intended to correct colonial ownership imbalances.

At least 4,000 white-owned commercial farms have been evicted, affecting nearly 2 million farm workers and their families, according to the MCF charity.

“The first invasions of white-owned farms began after Mr Mugabe was defeated by the new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change in a referendum in 2000,” explains The Telegraph.

“He allowed militant war veterans who fought white minority rule in Rhodesia in the 1970s to invade thousands of productive white-owned farms. It left the economy in ruins and millions of people dependent on emergency food aid,” it adds.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents Zimbabwe’s 300-odd remaining white farmers, has complained of persisting harassment and intimidation by officials claiming to represent Mugabe’s government departments or senior members of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Mugabe has launched a fresh effort to finally rid the country of its white landowners, said the CFU in February.

The union told The Telegraph that month that there had been “at least 20” white farm eviction incidents in recent weeks.

Hendrik Olivier, the CFU’s director, said that senior members of Mr Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organization were among the Zimbabwe government officials leading the latest evictions.

Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83