Bulawayo – At least one thousand white farmers are reportedly said to be poverty-stricken in Zimbabwe following the country’s controversial land reform programme introduced in the early 2000s.
Speaking during a debate on the proposed Land Commission Bill, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) senator, Michael Carter maintained that the country’s land policies were “racist” according to New Zimbabwe.
Carter said that the proposed law discriminated against white land owners as well as their black workers,
He singled out Section 21 (2) of the Constitution, which he said restricted the right of individuals who were not indigenous citizens to own, lease or occupy state land.
Carter said that the draft mimicked the colonial white government law which discriminated against blacks.
“For the record, as a white person, I must protests this clause [it] is discriminatory. Can a white person not be indigenous? In our constitution citizens are separated from indigenous people on racial basis which is unconstitutional and will eventually be challenged. This discrimination is based on the same principle as applied by the Smith government against black people. Do two wrongs make a right?” Carter was cited as saying.
The veteran leader said at the time that Zimbabwe was no country for whites as far as land was concerned.
Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party launched the land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
At the time, Mugabe said the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.
The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.
Critics of the reforms have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.