02 July 1998
Zimbabwe blames Britain for land acquisition fiasco

THE Zimbabwe Government sought to blamed Britain yesterday for the mounting fiasco of its land acquisition programme.

It accused Britain of appearing to have reneged on promises made at the time of independence to finance the redistribution of farms among the poor.

Zimbabwe has promised to speed up the re-settlement of an estimated 100,000 landless families by taking 202,350ha (500,000 acres) of private land a year – from mainly white farmers – over the next five years.

It intends to raise £1.4 billion through a donor conference. Britain is prepared to consider help, but it says it will not back plans that violate property rights or hurt Zimbabwes agriculture-based economy.

The Zimbabwean Government has been under pressure from groups of landless villagers occupying commercial farms in protest at the overdue promise of land.

Joseph Msika, chairman of the ruling Zanu-PF party and head of the land acquisition committee, said 111 farms had been offered for resettlement, 12 of which were ready. He claimed the first people would be on the land before the growing season in September.

The white farming community is still shaken by the formal listing last November of 1,470 farms for confiscation. About 170 of the listed farmers have offered their land to the Government, but nearly eight months later not one has been acquired.

  • The Daily Telegraph 02/07/98 page 26
  • The Times 02/07/98 page 21