The Sunday Mail
The new political administration believes in an inclusive society that does not countenance racial discrimination, and is working with white former commercial farmers to see how they can contribute to the development of the country, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
He also declared that the era of invading white-owned farms was over.
President Mnangagwa said white former commercial farmers who lost farms through land redistribution are free to take part in agricultural development through various contributions that can help the sector enhance productivity.
Addressing an interface meeting with members of the white community, Asians and those of mixed race in Harare yesterday, the Head of State and Government said no grouping is considered a minority community as Zimbabweans are one people.
“Under the new dispensation, there is no discrimination.
“We should cease to talk about who owns the farm in terms of colour. We should cease talking about that. A farmer – a black farmer, a white farmer – is a Zimbabwean farmer. We should look at it that way. We should begin to develop a culture among our people to accept that we are one.”
President Mnangagwa said in line with his plans to restore Zimbabwe’s status as the breadbasket of the region, Government welcomes white former commercial players who are willing to contribute their expertise to the development of the agriculture sector.
“Let the past remain behind, there are so many white farmers who don’t have farms anymore as a result of land reform. But I think they have a role to play in terms of skills in the farming sector. All that is required is more of such interaction with the farmers’ organisations. Invite me and I articulate my policy to the people, to the farmers so you find comfort and you know what is possible and what is not possible,” he said.
“I told the farmers in Mashonaland West and in Chipinge and Chimanimani that this issue of new invasions is a thing of the past. I have told my provincial ministers, I have told my party leadership across the country that (this) is a thing of the past. The rule of law must now apply.”
Government, he said, will also issue white farmers with 99-year leases.
“We want to restore the status of Zimbabwe as a food basket of the region.
“I met farmers in Mash West recently and I assured them that there will be increased pace in the issuance of the 99-year leases so that whoever owns a piece of land should feel secure and invest knowing that they have a 99-year lease in possession.
“But also, the 99-year lease is renewable and we want everything to be done to make it tradable.
“We have the rationalisation of land under the land commission (Zimbabwe Land Commission) that we instituted because during the process of land reform, many of us sitting here acquired more than one farm, pasi nazvo!
“We must correct that. Whoever has multiple farms, one for himself, one for the son and one for the grandchild, that land must be acquired.
“And we are saying many of the white commercial farmers who remained behind, who did not go away, we are very grateful for accepting this change and they must come on board and they must be issued with the 99-year leases wherever there are pieces of land which they hold,” he said.
He also said the farm rationalisation exercise will apply to anyone, irrespective of rank.
“We are also downsizing farms and again, we are racially blind. It doesn’t matter, if Chiwenga has a farm that is bigger than his area, we will downsize it, we forget that he is Vice President – he is a citizen like everybody else.
“The same with me and the same with everybody. We are going to make sure we do not have the animal farm mentality.”
President Mnangagwa said Command Agriculture is voluntary and funded by the private sector.
Productivity, he added, is the ultimate cure for the black market.
“All that is needed is productivity and productivity, so that you reach a stage where there will be no need to deal with black market because it is not beneficial. There must be that commitment that the economy is ours together and it is only us who can move it forward. The issue now is business, business, business, wealth creation, and the politics will come only after five years but in between, we must make wealth.”
After his speech, the President mixed and mingled with the crowd, which also had the opportunity to engage him and take “selfies”.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Zanu-PF National Chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Cde Miriam Chikukwa, among others.