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 Exiled Farmers Urged to Return to Zimbabwe
 Posted: Feb 3 2018, 03:46 PM

Dentus Chookus

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Zimbabwe's exiled farmers urged to return home as agricultural industry struggles

By Africa correspondent Sally Sara

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Photo: Zimbabwe's farm invasion program caused the country's agricultural production to drop dramatically. (ABC News)

The Zimbabwean Government's message to exiled farmers is clear. Come home.

It is offering land leases to commercial farmers in an effort to re-start the nation's agricultural industry.

Basil Nyabadza from Zimbabwe's Agricultural and Rural and Development Authority says Zimbabwean farmers in Australia should return to home soil.

"We have a lot of capital resource dotted around the world, including Australia," Mr Nyabadza said.

"We are saying, if you are Zimbabwean, there is now a real opportunity to come back home with your skills and be part of the building team."

The Government is now offering 99-year leases to white farmers, a deal previously reserved for black Zimbabweans.

The resignation of president Robert Mugabe last November and the swearing in of his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has delivered significant change.

Government officials now admit the campaign of farm invasions that began in 2000 was a mistake.

"Clearly, the formulas deployed then, left a lot of bad feeling. And more importantly, the intellectual property, left our borders," Mr Nyabadza said.

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Photo: Ninety-nine year leases will be offered to white farmers, a deal previously reserved for black Zimbabweans. (ABC News)

Thousands of white farmers were forced off the land during the invasions.

Several farmers and farm workers were killed, many others were injured.

The Zimbabwean Government promised the program would redistribute farming land to Zimbabweans in need.

But many farms were taken by politicians and members of the ZANU-PF ruling party.

Agricultural production dropped dramatically and the nation once regarded as the bread basket of Africa struggled to feed itself.

The farm invasions have continued over the last 18 years and Mr Mnangagwa was part of the government which allowed the seizures to continue.

Now farmers who lost everything are being asked to take the latest announcement in good faith.

For some former landholders, that is too much to ask. They will never return. Others are prepared to give it a try.

Mr Nyabadza says public/private partnerships are the only way forward to restore trust.

"We are now in a new dispensation. And the challenge is now, we must rebuild our economy. In so doing, we need each other. So, we are reaching out," Mr Nyabadza said.

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Photo: David van Breda believes there is huge opportunity for farmers who are prepared to return to Zimbabwe. (ABC News)

David van Breda has returned to Zimbabwe after more than a decade farming in neighbouring Zambia.

He is now growing maize on leased Government land a short drive from Harare.

"My message is there is huge opportunity here in Zim, if you are prepared to come back and operate differently to how one was operating before."

Mr van Breda's maize crop is tall and even. Machinery dealers are bringing in the latest equipment from Brazil, so farmers can plant and harvest on a large scale. The farm is providing much needed work for dozens of local workers, at a time when Zimbabwe's unemployment rate is up to 90 per cent.

Black and white commercial farmers are sharing knowledge to improve production.

"It's very different. I think both sides of the disturbances have realised that we have to work together here," Mr van Breda said.

Zimbabwe's maize production dropped by more than 60 per cent after the farm invasions and then fluctuated.

In 2016, an estimated 4 million Zimbabweans required food aid.

A bumper harvest last year helped to restore some confidence, but there is still a long way to go.

Mr Mnangagwa says the Government will pay compensation to farmers who lost their land during the farm invasions. But, the land will not be returned.
'The climate is still here, the soils are here'

Meanwhile millions of cash-strapped Zimbabweans are trying to feed themselves.

Even in Harare, small patches of land are planted with maize.

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Photo: James Vuma's small maize crops are not as strong as commercial fields. (ABC News)

Pensioner James Vuma has a small crop of maize on the outskirts of the capital.

His plants are not as strong as those in the commercial fields, but he does the best he can. Growing his own food saves money, when he has little to spare.

'Here in Zimbabwe, we are not lazy guys. We want to work always. So, if I just stay without working, I don't feel well', Mr Vuma said.

Zimbabweans are scheduled to go to the polls by August. Between now and then, Mr Mnangagwa is trying to convince voters and the international community that he is the right choice to lead the country.

The end of the 37-year reign of Robert Mugabe has delivered new opportunities and expectations. Mr Mnangagwa knows that reviving the agriculture sector will be one of the most important tests of his economic credentials. The race is on to entice commercial farmers back to their homeland.

David van Breda has a dry smile when asked if he has any advice for Zimbabwean farmers in Australia.

"If you are happy in Australia, stay there. But, the humour in this country is still here.

"The climate is still here, the soils are here. The path that we have all walked on in the past hundred years in this country has been up and down. But, I believe a lot of the historical problems have been resolved."

The ruin of Zimbabwe's thriving agriculture, the crash in the country's economy and the rampant inflation were all the doing of Robert Mugabe and his corrupt government.

The latest move makes sense but for every exiled farmer like David van Breda who returns, there are dozens who have made a new life and are too deeply scarred to return.

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” - John Wooden
 Posted: Feb 3 2018, 05:57 PM

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I guess there will always be some that will think they are going to get rich without any risk.

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Flin's opinions and comments reflect his perception of the facts and not necessarily reality
 Posted: Feb 4 2018, 07:45 AM


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Basil Nyabadza from Zimbabwe's Agricultural and Rural and Development Authority says Zimbabwean farmers in Australia should return to home soil.

Government officials now admit the campaign of farm invasions that began in 2000 was a mistake.

After the way white farmers were treated you would have to be either very foolish or very brave to return.

Battered but not beaten, Zimbabwe farmers seek justice.

By Eliott C. McLaughlin

(CNN) -- It was a frigid June night at Pickstone Mine in Zimbabwe when 67-year-old Angela Campbell -- soaking wet, her arm broken and a gun to her head -- signed a document vowing to give up the fight for her family's farm.

While Mugabe's thugs continue to terrorise Zimbabwe, the abduction and brutal beating of a white farmer has reignited another of the country's long-standing polemics - what to do with the country's wealthy white settlers.

After talking to the press about conditions in the run-up to the election, Ben Freeth, along with his elderly parents-in-law, was kidnapped from his farm in south-east Harare by around 20 militias on Sunday evening (29 June). The three were then taken to a "political camp" where they were beaten and intimidated by around 50 of Mugabe's clan, Freeth said. He is currently undergoing surgery for head injuries.

Attacks on white farmers in Zimbabwe have been commonplace since Mugabe's instruction to redistribute land in 2000. But during the recent wave of violence that swept the country in the run up to the run-off last Friday, a growing number of settlers have been targeted.

"We’ve been on the verge of genocide for some months now"

John Worsley-Worswick is a white Zimbabwean farmer whose farm was taken under Mugabe's land redistribution scheme. He now heads the Justice for Agriculture Trust, which claims to promote equality and peace in farming. The organisation has been citing violent acts under the land reform process since 2000. So far it's counted 627 incidents, six of which were murders.

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"Stupid people are like glow sticks: I wanna snap em and shake the shit outta them till the light comes on."
 Posted: Feb 4 2018, 10:16 AM

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I would just laugh in their faces and tell them exactly where they can shove their farms.

Everybody is Willing:
Some are willing to work, the rest are willing to let them!

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 Posted: Feb 4 2018, 12:54 PM

Rana Capillum

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So they will not get their land back. Sounds like they will be share farmers with the Government controlling the share they get.

Life is neither a race to the end, nor a slow ramble whose sole aim is longevity

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.
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