Zim Landgrab – A white Zimbabwean farmer who was evicted from his farmland during former president Robert Mugabe’s administration is set to return back to his farm and resume production following President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to reverse the decision to evict him.
According to multiple news sources in Zimbabwe, Robert Smart, a white commercial maize and tobacco farmer, was forcefully evicted him from his farm outside Rusape town by heavily armed Zimbabwean riot police in June this year to make to way for Bishop Trevor Manhanga – a top cleric who was very close to Mr. Robert Mugabe.
Prior to Smart’s eviction by former Minister of State for Manicaland Province, Mandi Chimene, then President Mugabe had told his supporters at a rally that all remaining white commercial farmers needed to be kicked off their properties to make way for the ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth and his supporters who had no land.
Now newly sworn-in President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered Smart to return to farming on the same piece of land the former administration evicted him from. Speaking on Tuesday, Mnangagwa’s special adviser, Chris Mutsvangwa asserted that Smart and his son should not be disturbed in their farming activities.
Mutsvangwa was quoted as saying:
“These two farmers, Robert and Darryn were victimized by Mandi Chimene. President Mnangagwa attended an investment conference to lure investors in June and Chimene sent some armed people to invade Smart farm so that the country could be portrayed as a high-risk destination for investment.
“This was a ploy by Chimene to scare away the investors from the country. President Mnangagwa was clear that land reform is irreversible but insisted that it should not be racial.
“These farmers are Zimbabweans and they belong to Manicaland province. Zimbabwe now needs direct investments to boost the economy.”
He warned that the ruling party is definitely going to reverse all the decisions made by Chimene administration.
According to recent reports, former Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene was strategically appointed by former First Lady Grace Mugabe to loot and parcel land to her G40 close allies. This allegation was allegedly made by Zimbabwe’s Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri while she was speaking at the Zanu PF Provincial Coordination Committee meeting.
Chimene was expelled from Zanu-PF together with other alleged G40 Faction members.
Former President Robert Mugabe shocked the world in 2000 when he made dramatic changes to land ownership laws in Zimbabwe which resulted in thousands of white Zimbabwean farmers being forced to give up their farms and many to leave the country.
Over 4 000 white commercial farmers and their employees were reportedly displaced at the height of the land seizures, according to the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe. While many of the farmers lost their property, some lost their lives during the chaotic land seizures.
The evicted white farmers allegedly owned 70% of the most arable land in the country which they had inherited from a colonial past built on racial hierarchy.