Marking his 93 birthday, Africa’s oldest serving president, Robert Mugabe took to state TV for an exceptionally long interview where he took a swipe at the white race for not leaving Africans to run their affairs.
The nonagenarian said he was proud that “most of the land that used to be in the hands of the settlers is now in the hands of our own people”, but he is worried that whites “have taken over once again” – especially on some farms.
He slammed black Africans, particularly Zimbabweans who had ‘surreptitiously’ handed over management of their farms to whites. By this, he apparently refers to the new black commercial farmers who employ dispossessed white farmers on their lands.
“Stupid stupid we, as indeed we are doing that.”
“There are [some blacks] who have really gone to sleep and the whites have taken over once again and it’s sad, isn’t it?” he added.
In Zimbabwe, farmland has been a central issue in the African nation’s violent struggles over race. But about fifteen years back, under Mugabe’s land reform programme, about 4000 lands belonging to whites were redistributed to black indigenous Zimbabweans
The Zimbabwean government began seizing property from thousands of white farmers and giving it to blacks as recompense for the abuses of colonial rule.
But as the years go by and as agricultural output stalls, black landowners began to quietly reach out to white farmers who were thrown off their lands.
Though it’s not clear how many whites have returned to work on their farmlands as managers, around 300 whites particularly dairy farm owners, have succeeded in getting back their properties.
When Mutinhiri, a black landowner was asked why this is so, she replied by saying: “The problem now is that we have the land, but they have the experience,” said . “We need to help each other.”
Zim president Robert Mugabe, however citizens that forging ties with white farmers is a step backward. He initially won fame as a guerrilla fighter against white minority rule, which ended with Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
“We can’t have another war to liberate a country we have already liberated,” Mugabe said last month, speaking about the increasing number of white farmers now advising or managing black-owned farms.
Speaking further on the matter, Mugabe called on black Zimbabweans to help improve the country’s ailing economy through mass investments.
he, however, lashed out at some blacks who he said waited for whites to invest and then they go and work for them.
“Have we become the masters of our own economy or are we still, you know, thinking of whites as the best entrepreneurs and Africans as the laborers?” he asked while noting that the whites would, of course, be happy to see us continue to work for them.
Critics have, however, accused Mugabe of wrecking one of Africa’s most promising economies through policies such as the violent seizure of commercial farms owned by white people, and money printing. He is also accused of holding on to power through rigged elections and the ruthless repression of dissent.
But in reaction to this, Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party say the economy has been undermined by western powers.