Crisis-torn Zimbabwe is on the brink of “manmade starvation” with most households unable to obtain enough food to meet basic standards, a UN envoy has said.
This comes 17 years after Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwean government seized large swathes of land from white farmers in the country, triggering a rapid downturn in the country’s economy.
“The people of Zimbabwe are slowly getting to a point of suffering a manmade starvation,” said Hilal Elver, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.
“More than 60% of the population of a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa is now considered food insecure, with most households unable to obtain enough food to meet basic needs due to hyperinflation,” said Elver.
How did the “breadbasket of Africa” reach the point of “manmade starvation“?
News24 reports that Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party launched the controversial land reforms in 2000, forcibly seizing white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. 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.
The Zimbabwean government’s message to exiled white farmers is now clear. Come back to Zimbabwe and save us.
The nation is offering land leases to white commercial farmers in an effort to re-start the nation’s agricultural industry.
Basil Nyabadza from Zimbabwe’s Agricultural and Rural and Development Authority says Zimbabwean farmers exiled in foreign lands should return to “home” soil.
The Government is now offering 99-year leases to white farmers, a deal previously reserved for black Zimbabweans.
The resignation of president Robert Mugabe last November and the swearing in of his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has delivered significant change.
Government officials now admit the campaign of farm invasions that began in 2000 was a mistake.
“Clearly, the formulas deployed then, left a lot of bad feeling. And more importantly, the intellectual property, left our borders,” Mr Nyabadza said.
Without its professional, experienced farmers, Zimbabwe went from being an agricultural export powerhouse to having to rely on handouts from the United Nations’ World Food Programme.
Hyperinflation and a multi-decade depression followed.
The news comes as South Africa threatens to follow in Zimbabwe’s doomed footsteps in seizing white farmers land and exiling them from the country.
South Africa is teetering on the brink of a race war after President Cyril Ramaphosa called on parliament to pass a law allowing white-owned land to be “confiscated” by blacks without any form of compensation.
Ramaphosa called white land ownership the “original sin”, and stated that he wants to see “the return of the land to the people from whom it was taken… to heal the divisions of the past.”
How does he plan on doing that?
Forcible confiscation. Specifically– confiscation without compensation.
“The expropriation of land without compensation is envisaged as one of the measures that we will use to accelerate redistribution of land to black South Africans.”
Ramaphosa did not mince his words. He’s talking about seizing land from white farmers and giving it to black South Africans — just like in neighboring Zimbabwe.
Astonishingly, Ramaphosa followed up that statement by saying, “We will handle it in a way that is not going to damage our economy. . .”
If South Africa refuses to learn the lessons of history, it is doomed to repeat them.