Saturday, October 01, 2005

Land seizures protested

mbabwe's central bank chief has called for a halt to farm invasions, calling those who try to seize land "criminals". Gideon Gono, the reserve bank governor, is quoted in a newspaper report as saying the invasions are totally unacceptable and should be stopped immediately.

Gono's comments come in the wake of at least two land seizures in the small town of Chipinge in south-eastern Zimbabwe last week. Five farmers have been forced off farms in the past weeks in Manicaland province. In one case, Dave Wilding-Davies, a Canadian coffee-farm owner, said he was leaving his farm after his farm manager was assaulted by an armed mob. Since 2000, Zimbabwe has seized some 4 000 farms and redistributed them to landless blacks under its land reform programme.

The reserve bank governor's major worry is generating foreign currency from agricultural exports. With the growing season just beginning, he believes farm invasions are uncalled for.

End of an era
Gono says the era of land allocations and farm invasions is over. He says it is now time for Zimbabwe to concern itself with productivity. Gono says anyone involved in invasions is working against economic stability and foreign currency generation. He said he was commenting not as a politician but as an economist and manager of Zimbabwe's foreign exchange.

However the government does not share his views. Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, has stressed that there will be a mopping-up exercise to draw in those farms he says 'escaped the net'. Chinamasa says all such farms will be accounted for and gazetted for acquisition. - Sapa

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