The Government of Zimbabwe led by the President Robert Mugabe now says that it wishes to see the return of white farmers. The country’s economy lies in ruins after white farmers were subjected to years of government sanctioned harassment.
During most of the 90s Zimbabwe was known as the breadbasket of Africa. Its fertile soil allowed farmers to grow large crops such as wheat, corn and tobacco which were exported across the African continent. During the 90s it was the white farmers who were behind the country’s once flourishing agricultural sector and owned up to 70% of all farmland; something that Mugabe and his Zanu party decided to change through extreme leftist policies. Through government reform, agricultural land was reallocated from white farmers to the country’s black population and in 2000 he government pushed through yet another reform. This reform forced white farmers to hand over their land and they were asked to leave the country completely.
As of last year only 100 – 150 white farmers remain in Zimbabwe, a number that used to be in the thousands. This forced exodus of whites and the forceful reallocation of their property has driven the country’s economy into the ground. Much of the most fertile lands previously owned by white farmers are now in the hands of people loyal to Mugabe or individuals who have no interest in farming. The rest of the previously white-owned farmland is held by Zimbabweans who do not have the skill to farm the land as effectively as their white predecessors.
This has resulted in the former breadbasket, who for decades exported food to the rest of Africa, to fall on its knees. Today the country cannot even feed its own people and crops that traditionally were good for the Zimbabwean economy such as avocados, tobacco and fruits have all but vanished.
According to American public service NPR the current food production in Zimbabwe doesn’t even cover the needs of half of its population. Western countries such as the USA, UK and Australia have therefore without success tried to aid projects whose goal has been to help black farmers to stand on their own legs. Despite these efforts, Zimbabwe has continued to see decreased output from its agricultural sector and the situation is so severe that USAID has been forced to hand out food to the Zimbabwean population in order to save them from starvation.
As the country and its people are suffering (some who are starving) as a result of these political reforms, Mugabe now begs white farmers who are interested to return to the country from which they were forced to leave.
According to the BBC journalist Peta Thornycroft who’s stationed in South Africa, it’s highly unlikely that the white farmers would return to the country.
“I cannot imagine that any of the farmers forced to leave during the last 15 years would want to return to the country.”.