Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, has basically told white landowners to take their mule, but leave their forty acres so that it can be given back to the Zimbabwe people. Mugabe said that white people may no longer own any land in Zimbabwe, but can own businesses and urban apartments.
“I have been given a list of 35 white farmers in Mashonaland West alone,” Mugabe said in a speech. “We say no to whites owning our land and they should go. … They can own companies and apartments…but not the soil. It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States.”
“There are white farmers who are still on the land and have the protection of some cabinet ministers and politicians as well as traditional leaders. That should never happen. They [whites] were living like kings and queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it.”
At the turn of the century Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader, unleashed waves of violent land acquisition by war veterans aligned to his political party. Thousands of white commercial farmers were forced out under a so-called “indigenization” land reform policy.
Mugabe’s land seizure was widely seen as a means of strengthening his grip on power after the emergence in 1999 of a robust opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai – whom Mugabe defeated in the election last July. The policy gave Mugabe a means to pacify a black rural population that for years had worked the least productive land, a legacy of British colonial era.
Since then, Zimbabwe has been in an economic tailspin, with banks collapsing and with the government unable to pay the wages of many in the civil sector.
Much of the land previously taken by those in the Mugabe regime has benefited the security, police and military wings of the leader’s circle.