June 28, 2002

50 Zimbabwean Farmers Move to Mozambique

At least 50 beleaguered Zimbabwean commercial farmers have applied for land leases to the Mozambican government after they were ordered to cease operations or face imprisonment in Zimbabwe, oppositional Zimbabwean newspaper Zimbabwe Independent has told.

Reports from Mozambique say 50 farmers have submitted requests for land leases since President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms took a turn for the worst with a May 10 amendment to the Land Acquisition Act. The amendment stipulates that a farmer should stop farming 45 days after being served with a notice of acquisition and subsequently vacate the property at the end of another 45 days. Zimbabwean farmers are also relocating to Zambia, Uganda and Namibia. There is also demand for them in Australia and New Zealand.

The Mozambican Agricultural ministry said in a statement 13 Zimbabwean farmers had been allocated farming leases. Mozambique prohibits the sale of land to individuals or companies. "The 13 farmers will be settled in the fertile central province of Manica and each will be given 1.000 hectares of land in line with Mozambican law that allows land to be leased for up to 50 years," the statement said. Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) spokesperson Jenni Williams said they were aware some farmers were moving to Mozambique. "The CFU is aware that a number of farmers from our membership are already farming in Mozambique and a lot more are planning to move there and other countries in the region with conducive farming conditions," said Williams.

The Mozambican government said the farmers were given land in the districts of Barue, Mavonde and Vanduze in Manica province, which borders Zimbabwe. Mozambique, also facing a crippling drought, is set to take advantage of Mugabe's controversial land reforms to attract the experienced farmers viewed as the best in the region.

Over 2.900 Zimbabwean white commercial farmers issued with Section 8 orders were ordered to stop all farming activities on Monday, June 24. (ZIMBABWE INDEPENDENT)

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