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Tobacco surge 'justifies Mugabe's land grabs'

07 July 2014, 13:41

Cape Town – Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Joseph Made has hailed President Robert Mugabe's land transfer campaign after the country reportedly recorded its biggest tobacco sales in 13 years.

The latest data from the country's Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show that more than 205.5 million kg delivered for sale this marketing year were more than the 200 million kg delivered in 2001 when the market was still dominated by large-scale, mainly white-run farms.

According to Bloomberg, Made said the figures justified Mugabe and his Zanu-Pf party's land reform programme, adding that Zimbabwe had shown the whole world that it was a country endowed with "human capital and resourcefulness".

"White farmers must go"

Made scoffed at what he termed Zimbabwe's "detractors" for having thought that Zimbabwean black farmers would fail to farm. 

The minister's remarks came after Mugabe made headlines last week following his typical anti-western rhetoric in which he vowed that whites will never be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe said the few remaining white farmers must go and cede all land to blacks.

White farmers in Zimbabwe have since described Mugabe's remarks as "extremely unhelpful" for a country which is currently reeling under a tough economic crisis.

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

Low production

At the time, Mugabe said 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 have blamed the programme for low production on the farms as the majority of the beneficiaries lacked the means and skills to work the land.

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