Washington Times, Dec. 17, 2006
In an about-face, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is letting some white farmers return to their land as the country faces starvation and economic collapse.
Since Nov. 19, white farmers who lost ownership of their land have been granted 99-year government-backed leases on resettled farms, the Independent reported Sunday.
“We wanted to come back, because it’s home,” one farmer told newspaper about his 250-acre farm outside the capital, Harare, where he plans to grow corn and tobacco.
Only about 600 white farmers are left in Zimbabwe, down from 4,500 in 1999.
Mugabe mounted a six-year campaign in 2000 to seize white-owned farms in an effort to win over a hostile electorate, declaring in 2005 his land-reform policy would only be complete when there was “not a single white on the farms.”
But famine and a collapsing economy have pressured him to let some interested whites return, the Independent said.
The land minister says her office had received more than 200 applications from whites to take up farming again.