Posted on September 23, 2005

Zim to Take Remaining Farms

SAPA/DPA, Sept. 23

Harare — The Zimbabwean government has ordered the cancellation of title deeds for over 4 000 white-owned farms and vowed to take over all remaining white farms, a newspaper said on Friday.

Patrick Chinamasa told reporters in the capital Harare that the cancellation of the deeds follows last month’s constitutional amendments barring white farmers from appealing to the courts against the government’s seizure of their land, the Herald said.

“Government has directed the Registrar of Deeds to immediately nullify all title deeds to the 4 000 farms which have been nationalised,” the Herald said.

Most of the farmers who had lost their land had challenged the takeovers in court.

But last month lawmakers from President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union — Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party used their parliamentary majority to force through changes to the constitution which make all agricultural land state property.

Only around 400 white farmers had remained on their land following the controversial land reform programme, which was launched in 2000.

Most were forced to co-exist with settlers on their land. But Chinamasa said that these farms now face expropriation.

“There will be a mopping up exercise with those farms who escaped the net being accounted for and gazetted for acquisition,” the Herald quoted him as saying.

Agricultural production in Zimbabwe, once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa, has plunged dramatically in the years following the seizure of commercial farms for redistribution to new black farmers.

In recent weeks, government officials including vice-president Joyce Mujuru and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono have accused some new farmers of lacking commitment to farming.