|January 4, 2002
ZIMBABWE: Seized land to politicians and journalists
The Zimbabwean government has published a list of new land owners,
including politicians and journalists, who have benefited from President Robert
Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms. The list includes dozens of leading
personalities, many of them associated with Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
The government began releasing the names of new land owners who have
sought commercial farm plots seized under a controversial programme of
redistributing white-owned farms to landless blacks. The list included Agripa
Gava, an executive member of the independence war veterans, Transport and
Communications Deputy Minister Paul Mangwana, former local government deputy
minister Tony Gara, four ZANU-PF members of parliament and Paul Madzore, a
parliamentarian from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. It also
named seven journalists working for state media, a prominent musician and a
town mayor. Agriculture Minister Joseph Made says the lists of names would show
the world that land reform enjoyed national support and was not merely for
cronies of government leaders.
The land drive began in February 2000 when self-styled war veterans
invaded hundreds of white-owned farms. Two months later, the government began
listing farms targeted for seizure under the "fast-track resettlement"
programme. So far, nearly 5,000 farms have been listed under the plan.
Meanwhile, Mugabe, who is the commander-in-chief of Zimbabwes
defence forces, personally sanctioned a 100 percent pay increase for all
uniformed forces this year. This concerns members of the army, of the airforce,
of the police and prison services as well as members of the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans Association, who are now controlled by the
Ministry of Defence. The rest of the workers in the public service will be
awarded a paltry 55 percent pay increase this year, far below Zimbabwes
annual November inflation of 103.8 percent.
Critics accuse Mugabe of trying to buy the loyalty of the uniformed
forces and of using the land issue to win votes ahead of presidential elections
scheduled for March which most analysts and opinion polls indicate he is likely
to lose. (Financial Gazette / The Namibian)