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‘It’s better to give a little bit now than lose everything,’ Zim farmer warns SA white farmers

25 July 2017
News24

African farmers to agree to a deal to share land with the black majority to avoid suffering the same fate as their Zimbabwean counterparts who were violently evicted from their properties.

According to New Zimbabwe, CFU President Peter Steyl said that it would be better if South African white farmers gave away a little bit of their land now than to risk losing everything later.

“They are facing the same situation in South Africa. I would tell them: it’s better to give a little bit now than lose everything when things go too far,” Steyl was quoted as saying.

Steyl, however, cautioned South African authorities not to emulate Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, which according to reports led to the country’s economic demise.

He said that Zimbabwean white farmers were arrogant and did not think that they could lose their farms, as they believed they were crucial for the country’s economy.

Colonial land ownership imbalances

“We were arrogant. We thought they would never take the land because we were too important for the economy.

“You never think it will happen until people turn up at your door armed with machetes…,” Steyl reportedly told Reuters.

President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party launched the controversial land reforms in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

Mugabe said at the time that the reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.

At least 4 000 white commercial farmers were evicted from their farms.

The land seizures were often violent, claiming the lives of several white farmers during clashes with veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation struggle.

Critics of the reforms blamed the programme for low production on the farms, as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.

Compensation 

Meanwhile, the CFU acting director Ben Gilpin has disputed  Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s claim that his government had paid $134 million in unbudgeted money in compensation to the white commercial farmers who were driven off their land, reported Voice of America.

Gilpin said that they were no farmers who have been compensated.

“We haven’t seen or heard of those payments from people whom we have been in contact with. We would need to check where those payments have gone,” Gilpin was quoted as saying.

Reports indicated that Zimbabwe had plans to compensate white farmers for their lost land and that the government had begun evaluating the properties.

Chinamasa was quoted at the time as saying: “It [compensation] is under our constitution, this is an obligation under our constitution as far as I am concerned.”