Mar. 4 (GIN) – Youth members of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front are running out of patience for land and jobs. They’ve reportedly told President Robert Mugabe that they’re fed up and intend to seize land they say is due to them since the launch of the land reform program in the year 2000.
“We, together with the war veterans, played a big role in the land reform program,” Edison Chakanyuka, the party’s deputy secretary for youth, told Mugabe during his 90th birthday celebrations at the Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera last week.
“But we did not receive land,” he reminded the leader, adding, “When are we also going to benefit from the land reform program?”
More than 40 farms have been threatened with invasion since December of last year, and eight commercial farmers have been forced off their properties since January.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Secretary General Japhet Moyo said the land invasions had resulted in 890 farmworkers losing their jobs, contributing to the 9,617 job losses recorded in 2013.
Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe President Charles Taffs described the rising anxiety and uncertainty among Zimbabwe’s remaining white farmers.
“What is happening is not good for agriculture at all,” Taffs said in an interview with the South African Mail & Guardian. “Agriculture thrives where there is long-term planning, and farmers need to access 20- to 25-year finance to develop infrastructure such as irrigation, but that cannot happen with this uncertainty.”
About a tenth of white farmers operating before the launch of the land reform program are believed to be still in the country farming.
Gift Muti of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe described a number of recent land seizures that left farmworkers there without jobs.
“There have been land grabs in Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Midlands … in some cases, workers have lost jobs as a result,” he told the Mail & Guardian. “There is confusion in the agricultural sector, and even some people who were allocated land during the land reform program have also been victims of land invasions.”
The government position on invasions is unclear, said the leader of the white farmers group, adding that dialogue is needed to bring clarity and finality to the land issue.