Zimbabwean unsettles its resettled farmers

Published: Saturday 15 March 2008

The Zimbabwean government has reclaimed about 1,450 farms from resettled farmers, also known as A2 farmers, after a recent land audit revealed that the new farmers were not using their farms productively.

Talking to the state-owned newspaper Herald, the land reform and resettlement minister, Didymus Mutasa, said "his ministry is repossessing all vacant and unutilized A2 farms" and that the ministry is not going back on this exercise. "We will withdraw the offer letters and allocate them to deserving new applicants. ...the repossession of plots should not be read as a reversal of the land reform programme," he said.

The land audit has found that most A2 farmers have not produced enough to justify being retained. Some didn't even establish themselves on the allotted plots.

Farmers, however, say in the face of an economic meltdown, they could not produce efficiently because of financial squeeze. Banks were also reluctant to issue them loans since their lands were on a 99-year lease.

In 2000, the government dispossessed more than 4,000 white commercial farmers of their land in a controversial land reform exercise and reallocated it to thousands of black Zimbabweans.

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