(22 Dec 2017) A white commercial farmer, who was evicted from his farm in Manicaland province in Zimbabwe, returned to the area on Thursday after local community members said they wanted him back.
Robert Smart and his family were welcomed back at their home after community members, local politicians and the country's new government intervened to reverse their forceful eviction by heavily armed Zimbabwean riot police back in June.
The tobacco and maize grower was evicted from the estate near Rusape, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Harare, to reportedly pave way for a top cleric, Trevor Manhanga, who had links with then president Robert Mugabe.
The grabbing of Lesbury Farm came shortly after Mugabe told his supporters at a rally that all remaining white commercial farmers should be kicked off their properties to make way for the ruling Zanu-PF party's youth and his supporters who had no land.
But, according to New Zimbabwe.com, president Mnangagwa's special adviser Chris Mutswangwa said on Tuesday that Smart and his son Darryn should not be disturbed in their farming activities.
"These farmers are Zimbabweans and they belong to Manicaland province," Mutswangwa was quoted as saying, adding that the country now needed direct investments to boost the economy.
Land is a contentious issue in Zimbabwe, where the government of former President Robert Mugabe, starting around 2000, initiated land seizures and evictions of farmers from the country's white minority, which relinquished power in 1980 after a guerrilla war by black nationalists.
Mugabe said the often-violent reform program was meant to redistribute resources to poor blacks, but many prime farms instead ended up in the hands of ruling ZANU-PF party leaders, party loyalists, security chiefs, relatives and cronies.
More recently, the situation was further complicated by rifts within the ruling party that led to the military intervention and the victory of president Emmerson Mnangagwa over a faction linked to Mugabe's wife Grace, who previously had presidential ambitions.
Mnangagwa in his inauguration speech said farmers would be compensated for the seized land but said the program itself would not be reversed.
You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/me...
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/Ho...
Channel AP Archive