Rest of Land to Be Seized as Nation Starves

From the February 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Zimbabwe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, is determined to strip the few remaining white farmers of their land, according to a leaked confidential report from the party’s central committee. Over the last four years, almost 90 percent of white landowners have been violently driven from their farms by President Robert Mugabe’s radical reforms. The central committee’s latest resolution aims to complete the job, yet contradicts claims by Mugabe that land seizures are over.

This does not bode well for the people of Zimbabwe already suffering severely under an imploding economy. “Food production fell by 60 percent because of disruptions caused in the agricultural sector by the farm invasions, and Zimbabwe has escaped starvation in the last three years only because donors chipped in with food” (Zim Online, Dec. 13, 2004).

Agricultural minister Joseph Made announced that less than a quarter of the targeted agricultural land was ploughed and planted in 2004 (Independent Online, Dec. 26, 2004).

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (ccz) reports that the average food cost of a family of six has risen 12.5 percent in the last two months alone. The ccz has also recorded sharp increases in the cost of basic foods as well as non-food items.

Additionally, “The cost of living in urban areas has increased steadily over 2004, and the majority of urban households struggle to meet their basic expenditure requirements. The cost of food and non-food items has increased 92 percent from January to November 2004, and wages and salary increases have lagged” (fews net, January 5).

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, has disputed government claims that all is well in the job market, remarking that “anyone who estimates this country’s unemployment rate at less than 70 percent is out of touch with reality”; the actual figure could be well over 80 percent (Africa News, Dec. 23, 2004). The cause? Matombo explained, “The disruption of agriculture through the land-reform program threw many people out of employment. The present situation in the sector is that it is no longer employing because there is nothing happening on the farms—most are under-utilized, if not derelict altogether” (ibid.).

The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate and the forecast dire. With food production all but wiped out, who will Mugabe blame when he is unable to feed Zimbabwe’s 12 million inhabitants?