PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Wednesday ratcheted up pressure against few hundred white remaining farmers saying they too must go adding whites would no longer be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe.
In an address filled with anti-western rhetoric at the launch of the A1 Model Settlement Tenure Permit in the Zanu PF heartland of Mashonaland West, Mugabe said Zimbabwe was no country for whites as far as the land was concerned.
“There are white farmers who are still on the land and have the protection of some cabinet ministers and politicians as well as traditional leaders,” he said.
“That should never happen and we will deal with ministers but as for our chiefs we do not want to harass you.
“Chief Charumbira (Fortune and president of chief’s council), you need to help us on this one because we respect you and your members. We do not want trouble.”
He added: “I have been given a list of 35 white farmers in Mashonaland West alone and in just a few districts that have been audited. We say no to whites owning our land and they should go.
“They can own companies and apartments in our towns and cities but not the soil. It is ours and that message should ring loud and clear in Britain and the United States.”
The new tenure system will confirm land ownership and, according to Mugabe, the government will create modalities within the financial services sector to allow farmers to access funding.
In typical anti-western rhetoric Mugabe took a dig at former British Premier Tony Blair.
“We had an agreement with the Margaret Thatcher government and when Tony Blair came he reneged on that agreement. I pleaded with him to review his decision but he was a boy from the street with no experience so he stuck to his guns,” said the veteran leader.
“I was not amused and told him to keep his England and we would keep our Zimbabwe. We will not pay for our land and we will not ask our people to pay for it because they never paid for it in the first place.
“They were selling to each other amongst themselves and we will not recognise any of that nonsense. They were living like kings and queens on our land and we chucked them out. Now we want all of it.”
Mugabe’s latest pronouncements are likely to send jitters across the agricultural sector and the remaining white commercial farmers some who have argued that they never benefitted from colonialism.
At the turn of the century, Mugabe unleashed veterans of the country’s liberation struggle on the country’s white commercial farming sector at a time his hold on power was threatened by the emergence of a strong opposition in the form of the MDC led by firebrand unionist Morgan Tsvangirai.
What followed was a chaotic and violent exercise which saw a handful of white farmers killed in a development that angered the West which reacted with devastating sanctions.
Destruction of a once thriving agricultural sector and the impact of the sanctions triggered a decade-long economic recession that forced millions of Zimbabwe to leave the country.
Mugabe has argued that he is correcting colonial land imbalances skewed in favour of a few thousand white farmers.