President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday assured Zimbabwe’s white farmers that their land will not be taken, calling on them to work together with the government ahead of landmark elections on July 30.
Mnagagwa has taken a different stance than his predecessor Robert Mugabe, who had white farmers evicted in favour of landless black people from 2000 by a controversial policy that collapsed the agriculture industry and triggered an economic crisis.
But with less than two weeks to go before Zimbabwe’s first elections since Mugabe’s ouster, Mnangagwa moved to end any fears that the practice would be repeated.
“This issue of new (land) invasions is a thing of the past. The rule of law must now apply,” Mnangagwa told a group of about 200 white and Asian people gathered in the capital Harare, adding that the “animal farm mentality”, was a thing of the past.
During the rally Mnangagwa said his government was “racially blind” and needed the expertise of everyone across the economy.
Because of Mugabe’s imposed in 2000 the Zimbabwe’s white population has decreased to less than 1% of the country’s 16 million.
The land without expropriation and land reforms lead agricultural output to crash, with investors leaving, huge increase in unemployment and leaving many Zimbabweans out of the country to seek for work.
Mnangagwa acknowledged the failure of the land reforms, he said the expertise of white people in the farming sector was still needed and encouraging them to take part in rebuilding Zimbabwe.
He said, “We must build the Zimbabwe we want. We want to restore the status of Zimbabwe as a food basket of the region.”
Lousia Horsely, 51, attended the rally, told AFP, “He gave us a lot of encouragement. We came here to ask for options for farming,”
“I wanted to know if my husband’s expertise is still needed if he wants to farm and wants to help other people to farm and that is what we are interested in. It sounds (like) he wants us to be part of it.”
Tara Chatterton, 39, who runs an auctioning business, she said, “We are here just to see… what he is aiming at in trying to bring the country back up and trying to get people to work together as one nation.