background to the current land grab situation can be
traced back to the Land Apportionment Act of 1930,
which effectively precluded blacks from land
possession in the then South Rhodesia. It was an act
that inflamed nationalist sentiment that eventually
saw Robert Mugabe rise to power, with a mission to
abolish what was seen as an archetypal colonial act and an affront to all black people. But Mugabe didn't just want to abolish the act, he
wanted revenge for it.
However, history will probably record the land grab in Zimbabwe as a
chronic economic failure. Essentially when the country gained
its formal independence from the UK in 1980, because of the Land
Apportionment Act, most of the farming
land belonged to the white population even though in total those
whites accounted for just 1% of the country's total population.
Originally the redistribution of land in Zimbabwe
started under the Lancaster House Agreement of 1980
on independence where it was to be on a willing
buyer/willing seller basis.
with the economy in a state of disrepair after nearly twenty
years of Robert Mugabe rule, Mugabe tried to distract attention
from his failing regime by enacting what is referred to as the
Zimbabwe 'land grab'; forcibly removing whites from
some 4,500 commercial farms, nationalising them and
redistributing the land to thousands of native Black
Zimbabweans. In this process the white farmers
didn't just lose their land but also their homes,
equipment and all their other posessions. This
didn't just affect the white farm owners but also
their employees and, as the program unfolded, some
one million farm workers found themselves displaced
and evicted from their homes on those farms.
anonymous former farm worker stated "Some ZANU-PF youth
went around hitting and raping farm workers and beating them to death.
Farm labourers were thrown out of the farms with their employers and some
farmers ran away without paying anything to farm workers." Violence
against farmers was also encouraged with a climate of lawlessness ensuing
in many areas and rape became increasingly common, making women more
vulnerable to HIV infection.
of the redistributed plots were around 800 hectares
in size on which wheat, tobacco and maize were grown
as well as cattle, goats and sheep raised.
Unfortunately many of these new land owners had
neither the skills nor the knowledge to successfully
maintain the land. In fact when once Zimbabwe was
called the 'bread basket of Africa' because of its
efficient land production, today 45% of the
population are malnourished., although, in fairness
much of this is attributable to eastern economies
applying sanctions to Zimbabwe cutting off its
export trade in tobacco, coffee and tea.