April 8, 2004

MDC: We will not return farmers' land

Zimbabwe's oppositional Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has announced that should it win power, it would not return land to evicted white farmers. "We cannot go back to the pre-2000 situation in which Mr Joe Bloke who has now run away, is in Australia, we say come and get back your land. We cannot go back to that," said MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, in an interview. "Neither can we endorse what Zanu PF has done," Tsvangirai said. "Land reform without the issue of food security is not land reform. Today six million Zimbabweans need food assistance. The land grabbing exercise that Mugabe has embarked on has led this country to a serious food deficit...We cannot reverse what has been done, but we cannot endorse what has been done," said Tsvangirai.
He said the ruling party's method of grabbing the land was wrong, even though it was backed by sound ideals. "Zanu PF has embarked on this disastrous land grabbing exercise. We, as the MDC, think the method was wrong, the objectives might be right... what we want as MDC is a rationalisation process, to rationalise the land distribution process, to rationalise the reform programme so that it becomes equitable, transparent and deals with this historical grievance," Tsvangirai said. He said once his party came to power it would conduct land audits to find out who owned farms and how many. This stems from allegations that some of the Zanu-PF and government officials have more than one farm. "(The audit) is going to reveal who has got what, and clearly set up a mechanism of a land commission to deal with redistribution, land reform itself, assistance to farmers and the progressive support that should be given for food service sufficiency. We are not going to embark on witch-hunting; we are going to say one farm, one person. Need is an important issue, not greed," he said.
Responding to Tsvangirai's comments, Zanu PF spokesperson Jonathan Shamuyarira admitted "there might have been problems with land allocation". "But we are dealing with it, we are investigating the problem as government," Shamuyarira said. He was referring to a probe into the land issue conducted by government, but whose report has been kept under wraps. (The Sunday Tribune, South Africa)

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