President Robert Mugabe has threatened to remove all the remaining 73 white commercial farmers in Mashonaland East and give the land to the youths.
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera at a youth rally, Mugabe said his government had discovered that the former Mashonaland East minister, Ray Kaukonde, had during his term, protected white farmers from eviction under the controversial land reform programme.
“Here in Mashonaland East, Ray Kaukonde, then resident minister was harbouring whites. We wondered why Mashonaland East had the highest number of white farms and discovered that 73 farms were owned by the whites,” Mugabe said.
Kaukonde was dismissed from Zanu PF with scores of other senior party officials on allegations of supporting the then Vice President, Joice Mujuru’s bid to topple Mugabe.
“These white-owned farms are the ones we are taking for the people who want land, but they will get few hectares as the population has grown. We want to decongest the rural areas,” he said.
Mugabe’s threats are meant to pacify Zanu PF youths who have demanded urban and agricultural land ahead of the 2018 elections.
Even so, the veteran leader wondered how the youths who are demanding land would farm the land when they lacked resources.
“Our challenge is that if we give a youth 100ha, he won’t manage that with only a young wife, one hoe and no money and inputs,” said Mugabe.
“We have discovered that those allocated land earlier are now selling it to the former white farmers. The whites are coming back as they have discovered that in South Africa where they had resettled to is hot.
“They pretend to be staying in cities, but at night they talk to the farmers and convince them to farm on their behalf and they share the profits.
“Some of the (traditional) chiefs are also conniving with the whites and the chiefs give them land and they share the profits,” he said.
Mugabe told the traditional leaders who are unable to carry out farming activities due to old age to surrender the land and so that it could be allocated to other people.
Zanu PF national Youth League leader, Kudzanai Chipanga had, before Mugabe’s address, also demanded that white farmers in the province leave and their farms be allocated to youths.
“Whites should leave the province. Mashonaland East has a high number of whites. They should go and stay with their fellow evicted farmers in Harare,” he said.
“We are told land is not available when we still have whites in the province, they should go to Borrowdale.
“Those who were allocated big farms should partition them for the youths so that we are able to pay fees for our children and you will have created employment.”
Meanwhile, during his address, Mugabe also promised that the long-awaited land audit exercise would be carried out soon to weed out multiple farm owners and those not fully utilising their allocated land.
“Don’t cry when we do that because we want people who are committed to farming to get land. We will revisit that and see who has multiple farms and redistribute to others,” he said.
On urban land allocation, Mugabe said the demands by the youths for residential stands were not sustainable as the country would soon run out of space, adding that his government’s plan was for the construction high rise apartments.
“In urban areas, the land is not adequate and we want to start a programme of building apartments as more people will be accommodated.
“If we continue parcelling out stands to the people, we will not be going anywhere as the population grows,” said Mugabe.