By Thandiwe Garusa
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has threatened to seize farms from locals he accused of underutilising them.
He said the farms would be handed over to those living in the diaspora.
He was briefing government officials on his return from the world Economic forum (#WEF22) in Davos and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tour.
Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans in the UAE have shown interest in acquiring farming and residential land.
“In my discussions with comrades in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the majority of them wanted to know whether they can have access to land, access to housing and the answer is in the affirmative,” Mnangagwa said.
“It is true that there are no longer whites to grab land from, but we have people who have been unable to utilise the land which was allocated to them, or we have people who are underutilising land, or we have people who are absent landlords.
“Now, I instituted a land audit, which has brought out facts on the ground and indeed those who are serious about using land can attain their desire,” Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe is currently paying for compensation for its “chaotic” land reform programme.
In 2020, it agreed a US$3,5 billion payout to former white commercial farmers whose farms and properties were repossessed in the war veteran-led process that got the country sanctioned in the early 2000s.
This has been heavily criticised by local and regional pan-Africanists that include Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commander, Julius Malema, who say Mnangagwa is reversing gains of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
A land audit was initiated to ascertain owners of farms across the country, but the final report is yet to be publicised, with reports indicating top level government officials were implicated in multiple farm ownership.