Zimbabwe Land

The 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.

Zimbabwe Land GrabHowever, 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.

As one 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.

Many 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.


Zimbawe Land Grab: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

The above image shows land distribution in the then Rhodesia in 1965 showing a significant proportion was in white hands.


Zimbabwe Land

Zimbabwe Land

Zimbabwe Land

Zimbabwe Land



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Zimbabwe Land

Zimbabwe Land

A video documentary about the Zimbabwe land grab or land distribution when white farmers were forcibly removed from their farms in Zimbabwe.


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