White farmers must stop resisting eviction – MDC-M

INSIZA – Movement for Democratic Change legislator for Insiza North Siyabonga Malandu Ncube says his party never promised to return white commercial farmers land and advised them to stop resisting eviction and start applying for land.\r\n

In an interview with RadioVOP, Ncube said his party never promised any white farmers that they would not be removed from their farms.

"What we did promise is that after the agreement there would be Audit Committee to establish how many farms in every district were occupied and how many are still in the hands of white commercial farmers.

"They actually own maybe half of our constituencies these white guys but we need land for the black people. We did not say as the MDC that we are going to return the land but promised to take some form of action after we take over," he said.

Ncube indicated that ZANU PF and MDC had agreed that the land acquisition was irreversible; indicating that whoever is at a farm at the moment is the owner of that land.

"The land issue is irreversible under the inclusive government agreement so i do not see any of the leaders reversing the invasions. Whoever owns the land now is the owner of that land.

"On Monday last week I met some of the farmers and advised them to apply for farms, that they should go the district administrators and apply for land and if they are denied that land then they can approach us and we will see what we can do," Ncube said.

Ncube’s statements are in direct contrast with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s reassurance to commercial farmers on Friday last week, where he indicated people invading their properties with fraudulent documents would be arrested.

His remarks come amid a worsening crisis on the estimated 400 white-owned farms left in the country, where President Robert Mugabe’s supporters are forcing their way onto the land, evicting families, seizing their crops and assaulting farm workers.

Tsvangirai told a meeting of human rights, development and business organisations he had ordered his ministers of home affairs, to "ensure that all crimes are acted upon and the perpetrators arrested and charged."

The home affairs ministry, which controls the police, is co-administered by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The government in 2007 abolished private ownership of farmland and barred farmers from legally contesting the evictions that began in 2000 under the guise of land reform.

In his strongest statement yet on the matter since the new government was inaugurated six weeks ago, Tsvangirai said that most of the disruptions were "actually acts of theft."

Observers say the invasions provide a visible cause of refusal by Western governments and bilateral institutions to provide the new coalition government with desperately needed aid.

Western leaders are insisting on evidence of a real departure from Zimbabwe’s history of human rights abuses and corruption before contributing large amounts of aid towards rebuilding the bruised economy.

Former Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement minister Didymus Mutasa was recently implicated in the ongoing farm disruptions.

This came to light in a damning Commercial Farmers Union report submitted to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week highlighting farm disruptions that have reportedly seen farmers abandoning their homes and going into hiding.

The Report on Farm Disruptions Volume XVII dated March 27 and submitted to Tsvangirai’s office the same day, accused Mutasa of leading a Land Inspectorate Commission, which was allegedly interfering with farming activities on white-owned commercial farms.

“This special report has been produced to highlight the gravity of the situation occurring in the commercial farming sector of Zimbabwe during March 2009 following the swearing in of the new Transitional Inclusive Government,” reads the report.

“What has become very evident from the reports coming in is that there is a very active group, which we understand is called the Land Inspectorate Commission, allegedly headed by the previous Minister of Lands (etc), Minister (Didymus) Mutasa, and assisted by two of his relatives, being the lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa and Temba Mliswa, who we believe holds the position of Secretary of Lands for Mashonaland West in the Zanu PF party.”