Zimbabwe starts reclaiming land seized from white farmers

A BBC graphic on a 2000 piece examining controversial land seizures in Zimbabwe. The government is now repossessing plots of land seized from white farmers and given to blacks due to what it says is their underutilisation.  

Zimbabwe has started repossessing underutilised pieces of land from beneficiaries of its controversial land reforms that started over a decade ago.

President Robert Mugabe justified the violent land grabs from white commercial farmers by saying it was meant to correct colonial imbalances.

Critics said most of the productive farms were parcelled out to the 88-year-old leader’s cronies who did not have any resources or interest in farming.

Advocate Martin Dinha, the governor for Mashonaland Central province, which is a prime farming area, said the repossessed plots will be allocated to landless people.

"President Mugabe is on record saying farmers not utilising land should be removed and once he says something it becomes policy,” he said.

“There is no going back on this thrust and offer letters will continue to be issued out as long as there are people who still need land.

Mr Dinha added: “Land should be allocated according to production levels, land utilisation capacity and resources available. I am concerned with people who own large hectares of land but are not fully utilising it.”

Zimbabwe’s agriculture production has plummeted over the years as the new farmers continue to struggle to access resources to modernise their farming.

A number of frustrated black farmers have also resorted to leasing their pieces of land to the former commercial farm owners drawing President Mugabe’s ire.

Mr Dinha argued that there still some Zimbabweans who can put the land to better use. “Land is for the benefit of all Zimbabweans and should not be used as a status symbol,” he said.

"We cannot have a situation whereby a country goes hungry yet there are people with huge farms but not utilising resources. This shows that the process is being done to correct anomalies incurred during the fast track land resettlement programme.”

Zimbabwe has been relying on donors to feed more than three quarters of its population in the last decade.

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