10 September 1998
EU refuses to help Zimbabwe land grab

The European Union (EU) has called on President Mugabe to trim his “ambitious” schemes for switching 4.8 million hectares (12m acres) of land from white farmers to black families. It has also refused to fund the scheme.

Peter Leitenbauer, the Austrian ambassador representing the EU at a three-day conference of “donor” countries said any land programmes must be “consensual, transparent, economically sustainable and orderly”.

Land must not be forcibly taken from whites, as suggested by Mr Mugabe, and the programme must be protected against corruption.

Mugabe was making a plea for financial support for his £1bn programme. But the EU said that “less costly” land reforms should be considered, such as a more market-oriented approach involving taxation and subdivision to bring more land to the market.

The World Bank representative to the conference expressed support for land reform but cautioned that it would be “unwise too much all at once.”